Many strains of Trichoderma fungi have beneficial effects on plant growth and pathogen control, but little is known about the importance of plant genotype, nor the underlying mechanisms. We aimed to determine the effect of sugar beet genotypic variation on Trichoderma biostimulation. The effect of Trichoderma afroharzianum T22 on sugar beet inbred genotypes were investigated in soil and on sterile agar medium regarding plant growth, and by quantitative reverse transcriptase-linked polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) analysis for gene expression. In soil, T22 application induced up to 30% increase or decrease in biomass, depending on plant genotype. In contrast, T22 treatment of sterile-grown seedlings resulted in a general decrease in fresh weight and root length across all sugar beet genotypes. Root colonization of T22 did not vary between the sugar beet genotypes. Sand- and sterile-grown roots were investigated by qRT-PCR for expression of marker genes for pathogen response pathways. Genotype-dependent effects of T22 on, especially, the jasmonic acid/ethylene expression marker PR3 were observed, and the effects were further dependent on the growth system used. Thus, both growth substrate and sugar beet genotype strongly affect the outcome of inoculation with T. afroharzianum T22.
Keywords: Beta vulgaris; Trichoderma afroharzianum; gene expression; growth stimulation; inbred genotypes; pathogen response pathways.