Plant root-associated bacteria can confer protection against pathogen infection. By contrast, the beneficial effects of root endophytic fungi and their synergistic interactions with bacteria remain poorly defined. We demonstrate that the combined action of a fungal root endophyte from a widespread taxon with core bacterial microbiota members provides synergistic protection against an aggressive soil-borne pathogen in Arabidopsis thaliana and barley. We additionally reveal early inter-kingdom growth promotion benefits which are host and microbiota composition dependent. Using RNA-sequencing, we show that these beneficial activities are not associated with extensive host transcriptional reprogramming but rather with the modulation of expression of microbial effectors and carbohydrate-active enzymes.
© 2021. The Author(s).