Endemic plants harbour specific Trichoderma communities with an exceptional potential for biocontrol of phytopathogens

Christin Zachow*, Christian Berg, Henry Müller, J Monk, Gabriele Berg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Trichoderma strains exhibit enormous potential for applications in biotechnology, in particular as biocontrol agents against pathogens. However, little is known about the diversity of plant-associated Trichoderma communities at a global scale and their antagonistic spectrum. In order to gather information about structure and function, we compared Trichoderma biomes of endemic (Aeonium, Diospyros, Hebe, Rhododendron) and cosmopolitan plants (Zea mays) in a global study encompassing the area Northwest Africa to New Zealand via the European Alps and Madagascar. At the quantitative level we found no differences between cosmopolitan and endemic plants. Statistically significant differences were detected at the qualitative level: Trichoderma populations of endemic plants were highly specific and diverse with hot spots appearing in Madagascar and New Zealand. By contrast, maize plants from all sites shared the majority of Trichoderma species (65.5%). Interestingly, the high above ground biodiversity in ecosystems containing endemic plants was confirmed by a high below ground Trichoderma diversity. Despite the differences, we found a global Trichoderma core community shared by all analysed plants, which was dominated by T. koningii and T. koningiopsis. Amplicon-based network analyses revealed a high similarity between maize Trichoderma grown world-wide and distinct populations of endemic plants. Furthermore, Trichoderma strains from endemic plants showed a higher antagonistic activity against fungal pathogens compared to maize-associated strains. Our results showed that endemic plants are associated with a specific Trichoderma microbiome which possesses a high antagonistic activity indicating that it has potential to be used for biocontrol purposes.

Previous article in issue
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-170
JournalJournal of Biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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