Review: Endophytic microbes and their potential applications in crop management

Pest Manag Sci. 2019 Oct;75(10):2558-2565. doi: 10.1002/ps.5527. Epub 2019 Jul 27.


Endophytes are microbes (mostly bacteria and fungi) present asymptomatically in plants. Endophytic microbes are often functional in that they may carry nutrients from the soil into plants, modulate plant development, increase stress tolerance of plants, suppress virulence in pathogens, increase disease resistance in plants, and suppress development of competitor plant species. Endophytic microbes have been shown to: (i) obtain nutrients in soils and transfer nutrients to plants in the rhizophagy cycle and other nutrient-transfer symbioses; (ii) increase plant growth and development; (iii) reduce oxidative stress of hosts; (iv) protect plants from disease; (v) deter feeding by herbivores; and (vi) suppress growth of competitor plant species. Because of the effective functions of endophytic microbes, we suggest that endophytic microbes may significantly reduce use of agrochemicals (fertilizers, fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides) in the cultivation of crop plants. The loss of endophytic microbes from crop plants during domestication and long-term cultivation could be remedied by transfer of endophytes from wild relatives of crops to crop species. Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels could reduce the efficiency of the rhizophagy cycle due to repression of reactive oxygen used to extract nutrients from microbes in roots. © 2019 The Authors. Pest Management Science published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society of Chemical Industry.

Keywords: bacteria; biostimulants; endophytic microbes; fungi; microbiome; rhizophagy cycle.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Crop Production / methods*
  • Crop Protection / methods*
  • Crops, Agricultural / growth & development
  • Crops, Agricultural / microbiology*
  • Crops, Agricultural / physiology
  • Endophytes / physiology*
  • Fertilizers / analysis
  • Symbiosis*


  • Fertilizers