Bacterial and yeast endophytes isolated from the Salicaceae family have been shown to promote growth and alleviate stress in plants from different taxa. To determine the physiological pathways through which endophytes affect plant water relations, we investigated leaf water potential, whole-plant water use, and stomatal responses of rice plants to Salicaceae endophyte inoculation under CO2 enrichment and water deficit. Daytime stomatal conductance and stomatal density were lower in inoculated plants compared to controls. Leaf ABA concentrations increased with endophyte inoculation. As a result, transpirational water use decreased significantly with endophyte inoculation while biomass did not change or slightly increased. This response led to a significant increase in cumulative water use efficiency at harvest. Different endophyte strains produced the same results in host plant water relations and stomatal responses. These stomatal responses were also observed under elevated CO2 conditions, and the increase in water use efficiency was more pronounced under water deficit conditions. The effect on water use efficiency was positively correlated with daily light integrals across different experiments. Our results provide insights on the physiological mechanisms of plant-endophyte interactions involving plant water relations and stomatal functions.
Rho, H., Van Epps, V., Wegley, N., Doty, S. L., & Kim, S.-H. (2018). Salicaceae Endophytes Modulate Stomatal Behavior and Increase Water Use Efficiency in Rice. Frontiers in Plant Science, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2018.00188