Endophyte Club

Trevor Hodkinson, Brian Murphy, Anna Kaja Hoeyer and Anindita Lahiri of the Botany Department in Trinity College Dublin (IE)

A ‘microbiome’ is all of the microorganisms in a particular environment, including the human body or a part of the body. Plants contain a microbiome in a similar way to humans and other animals. There is a diverse range of microbes that live within plant cells and tissue that help the plant grow. Some of these are classed as endophytes. Endophytes are organisms, especially a fungus or microorganism, that live inside a plant without causing apparent disease, in a parasitic or mutualistic relationship.

Endophytes have been found in all species of plants studied to date, but the relationship between endophyte and plant is still not very well understood. Some endophytes are believed to enhance host growth, nutrient acquisition, and may improve the plant’s ability to tolerate environmental stresses, such as drought, and enhance resistance to insects and mammalian herbivores.

Researchers at the Botany Department in Trinity College Dublin are undertaking research to discover the diversity and uses of these microbes, which include both bacteria and fungi. Some can be used as seed coats to infect plants and boost yields, some provide valuable chemicals for medicine and others might protect plants against pathogens, such as Ash Dieback disease.

PROFILE

The Botany Department of Trinity College Dublin is a leading centre of teaching and research in plant sciences. Their interests range over the areas of plant systematics, plant community ecology, and environment and sustainability. They study plants because they are of vital importance; as the source of our food, the oxygen we breathe and most of the medicines we use. They are central to the processes of global climate change and to the provision of food and energy for an expanding human population. Trevor Hodkinson is the Head of the Botany Department.

The Open Ag Lab presents some of the cutting edge research being field tested on farms and is a space for visitors to get their hands dirty through learning.