Native Rhizospheric and Endophytic Fungi as Sustainable Sources of Plant Growth Promoting Traits to Improve Wheat Growth under Low Nitrogen Input

Akram H. Mohamed, Fayrouz H. Abd El-Megeed, Naziha M. Hassanein, Sameh H. Youseif, Peter F. Farag, Saleh A. Saleh, Basel A. Abdel-Wahab, Amnah Mohammed Alsuhaibani, Yosra A. Helmy, Ahmed M. Abdel-Azeem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Wheat crops require effective nitrogen fertilization to produce high yields. Only half of chemical N2 fertilizers are absorbed into plants while the rest remains in the soil, causing environmental problems. Fungi could maximize nitrogen absorption, and from an environmental and biodiversity point of view, there is an urgent necessity for bioprospecting native fungi associated with wild plants growing in harsh environments, e.g., St. Katherine Protectorate (SKP) in the arid Sinai. Recovered taxa, either endophytic and/or rhizospheric, were screened for their plant growth-promoting (PGP) traits. Eighteen fungal isolates (15 rhizospheric and 3 endophytic) belonging to anamorphic ascomycetes were recovered from 9 different wild plants, and their PGP traits (indole-3-acetic acid [IAA] production, phosphate solubilization, siderophore production, and hydrolytic enzyme production) were measured. Rhizospheric isolate NGB-WS14 (Chaetosphaeronema achilleae) produced high levels of IAA (119.1 µg mL−1 ) in the presence of tryptophan, while NGB-WS 8 (Acrophialophora levis) produced high IAA levels (42.4 µg mL−1 ) in the absence of tryptophan. The highest phosphate-solubilizing activity (181.9 µg mL−1 ) was recorded by NGB-WFS2 (Penicillium chrysogenum). Endophytic isolate NGB-WFE16 (Fusarium petersiae) exhibited a high percentage level of Siderophore Unit (96.5% SU). All isolates showed variability in the secretion of extracellular hydrolytic enzymes. Remarkably, all isolates had antagonistic activity (55.6% to 87.3% suppression of pathogen growth) against the pathogenic taxon Alternaria alternata (SCUF00001378) in the dual-assay results. Out of the 18 isolates, 4 rhizospheric and 1 endophytic isolate showed significant increases in shoot dry weight and shoot nitrogen and chlorophyll content of wheat plants subjected to low inputs of chemical nitrogen (N) fertilizers (50% reduction) compared with the non-inoculated control in a pot experiment. Potent taxa were subjected to sequencing for molecular confirmation of phenotypic identification. The retrieved ITS sequences in this study have been deposited in GenBank under accession numbers from LC642736 to LC642740. This study considered the first report of endophytic fungi of Cheilanthes vellea, a wild plant with PGPF which improves wheat growth. These results recommend using PGPF as inoculants to alleviate low nitrogen fertilization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number94
JournalJournal of Fungi
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments: The authors extend their appreciation to Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University for funding this work through Researchers Supporting Project number (PNURSP2022R65), Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Crop protection
  • Endophytes
  • Fertilization
  • Fungi
  • IAA
  • Phosphorus
  • Rhizosphere
  • Wild plants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science
  • Microbiology (medical)


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