RAMOT at Tel Aviv University Ltd.

Plant endophytic fungi for crop protection and resistance to abiotic stress

Posted by RAMOT at Tel Aviv University Ltd.Responsive · Innovative Products and Technologies · Israel

Summary of the technology

Plants contain numerous microorganisms, in particular fungi. They are collectively referred to endophytes.
Endophytic fungi are beneficial for the hosting plant, therefore the co-existence from day 1. The advantages
for the plants include growth enhancement, protection from pathogens and pests, ability to grow and
reproduce in sub-optimal conditions such as water limiting conditions and sub or supra- optimal
During cultivation, important genes have been lost and scientist are trying to find genes in wild populations
and add them back into cultivated plants. ICCI specializes in diseases of cereals. Work is done on isolation
of disease resistance genes from wild relatives of wheat and introduction into cultivated wheat. We propose
to complement the genetic efforts by producing disease resistance through the use of endophytic fungi;
Similar to gene loss, we believe that essential microorganisms have been lost during cultivation. We will
utilize the vast collection of seeds from wild relative of wheat and barley to identify hidden endophytes that
contribute to plant disease resistance and survival in arid and warm climate. After identifying such
endophytes in the wild plants, we will introduce the most beneficial species into cultivated wheat and barley.
This approach has been already used successfully in pasture plants.
Expected outcome:
1. Novel knowledge on the composition of endophytic species in wild grasses relatives of wheat
2. Patent of species with economical and agricultural potential
3. Development of pathogen-protection in wheat and barley
4. Development of climate sustainability in wheat and barley
Project ID : 2-2013-719

RAMOT at Tel Aviv University Ltd.

Description of the technology


Endophytes are microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) that reside within plants. Among them are species that contribute to plant's vigour and ability to cope with pests and harsh environments. We rationalized that beneficial endophytes might be sourced from wild species relative of cultivated cereals. To this end, we have produced profiles of endophytic fungi present in wheat and two related wild species. We have selected two endophytes that were unique to the wild species and introduced them to bread wheat. Green house experiments revealed a remarkable increase of growth, and extended survival under salt and water limiting conditions (figure 1). Further examination in small filed plots confirmed the beneficial effects of the endophytes to wheat growth, including significant increase of number of tillers and biomass.Figure 1. Survival of wheat plants without water. Control: wilted plants of a commercial line without the endophytes. Middle and left: plant of the same cultivar with each of the new endophytes keep growing.


The Need

The need to boost global food production, exhaustion of traditional agricultural practices, and the microbiome revolution, all have contributed to increased interest in plant-associated microorganisms, which are collectively referred to as phytobiomes. Along with potential increase of yields, beneficial microorganisms, and in particular endophytic fungi, contribute to ability of plant to sustain draught and extreme climate conditions, which become increasingly common. 

Potential Applications

The final product will be a commercial formulation of the endophytic fungus, which can be added to wheat and possibly to additional crops, through the seeds or as a foliar application.

Applications Examples:

• Increased yields through enhanced growth• Elevated climate tolerance of crops • Improved seed germination

Stage of Development

Greenhouse experiments: confirmed enhanced ability of wheat to tolerate water and salt stress, enhanced biomass production under optimal and stress conditions. , in a number of abiotic stresses. Filed conditions: improved germination, enhanced wheat growth, biomass production, number of tillers.



Project manager

Elisha Natan
Director BD

Project researchers

Amir Sharon
T.A.U Tel Aviv University, Life Sciences
Department of Molecular Biology and Ecology of Plants

Related keywords

  • Agro chemicals
  • Agriculture
  • Agricultural genetic engineering applications
  • Agricultural chemicals
  • Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, Animal Husbandry and Related Products
  • agriculture
  • crop protection

About RAMOT at Tel Aviv University Ltd.

Technology Transfer Office from Israel

Ramot is Tel Aviv University's (TAU) technology transfer company and its liaison to industry, bringing promising scientific discoveries made at

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