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Trichoderma harzianum Strain T22 Modulates Direct Defense of Tomato Plants in Response to Nezara viridula Feeding Activity


Plant growth-promoting fungi belonging to genus Trichoderma are known to help plants when dealing with biotic stressors by enhancing plant defenses. While beneficial effects of Trichoderma spp. against plant pathogens have long been documented, fewer studies have investigated their effect on insect pests. Here, we studied the impact of Trichoderma root colonization on the plant defense responses against stink bug feeding attack. For this purpose, a model system consisting of tomato plant, Solanum lycopersicum cv Dwarf San Marzano, Trichoderma harzianum strain T22 and the southern green stink bug, Nezara viridula, was used. We firstly determined stink bug performance in terms of relative growth rate and survival on tomato plants inoculated by T. harzianum T22. Then, we evaluated relative expression of plant defense-related genes on inoculated plants induced by stink bug feeding. We found evidence that T. harzianum T22 affects tomato defense responses against N. viridula nymphs leading to reduction of growth rate. Our results also showed that T. harzianum T22 enhances plant direct defenses by an early increase of transcript levels of jasmonic acid marker genes. Yet this effect was time-dependent and only detected 8 h after herbivore induction. Taken together, our findings provide better understanding on the mechanisms underlying tomato induced resistance against herbivorous stink bugs.