Piriformospora indica promotes cucumber tolerance against Root-knot nematode by modulating photosynthesis and innate responsive genes

Saudi J Biol Sci. 2020 Jan;27(1):279-287. doi: 10.1016/j.sjbs.2019.09.007. Epub 2019 Sep 11.


Root Knot Nematode (RKN, Meloidogyne incognita) is one of the greatest damaging soil pathogens causes severe yield losses in cucumber and many other economic crops. Here, we evaluated the potential antagonistic effect of the root mutualistic fungus Piriformospora indica against RKN and their impact on vegetative growth, yield, photosynthesis, endogenous salicylic acid (SA) and its responsive genes. Our results showed that P. indica dramatically decreased the damage on shoot and root architecture of cucumber plants, which consequently enhanced yield of infested plants. Likewise, P. indica colonization clearly improved the chlorophyll content and delimited the negative impact of RNK on photosynthesis. Moreover, P. indica colonization exhibited a significant reduction of different vital nematological parameters such as soil larva density, amount of eggs/eggmass, eggmasses, females and amount of galls at cucumber roots. Additionally, the results showed that SA level was significantly increased generally in the roots of all treatments especially in plants infested with RKN alone as compared to control. This suggests that P. indica promoting SA levels in host cucumber plant roots to antagonize the RKN and alleviate severity damages occurred in its roots. This higher levels of SA in cucumber roots was consistent with the higher expressional levels of SA pathway genes PR1 and PR3. Furthermore, P. indica colonization reduces PR1, PR3 and increased NPR1 in roots of RKN infested cucumber plants when compared to non-colonized plants. Interestingly, our in vitro results showed that direct application of P. indica suspension against the J2s exhibited a significant increase in mortality ratio. Our results collectively suggest that P. indica promoting morphological, physiological and SA levels that might together play a major important role to alleviate the adverse impact of RKN in cucumber.

Keywords: Cucumber; Piriformospora indica; Root-knot nematode; Salicylic acid.