Diversity and Biological Activities of Endophytic Fungi Associated with Micropropagated Medicinal Plant Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE GAINESVILLE FL CENTER FOR MEDICAL AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY ENTOMOLOGY
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Echinacea is one of the top ten selling medicinal herbs in Europe and United States. Commercially available formulations may contain different plant parts of three species Echinacea purpurea, E. pallida, and E. angustifolia. Our study evaluates the diversity of microbial community associated with healthy E. purpurea clones and their ability to produce defense compounds. We recovered and identified thirty-nine fungal endophytes through the molecular methods in 15 distinct phylotypes, which were closely related to species of the following genera Ceratobasidium, Cladosporium Colletotrichum, Fusarium, Glomerella, and Mycoleptodiscus. These taxa were previously reported as decomposer and phytopathogenic fungi. The fungal community associated with two E. purpurea clones showed high richness and dominance indices with different distribution among plant organs. Crude extracts of fungal isolates were tested for antifungal and insecticidal biological activities. A total of 16 extracts 41 showed antifungal properties while just the extract of M. indicus exhibited larvicidal activity against A. aegypti. These results suggest that the symbiosis between the endophytic fungal community and micropropagated clones of E. purpurea was re-established after acclimatization to soil and the endophytic fungi produced compounds against phytopathogenic fungi.