Piriformospora indica: a root endophytic fungus and its roles in plants

  • Liu YANG Yangtze University, College of Horticulture and Gardening, Jingzhou, Hubei 434025
  • Jin-Li CAO Yangtze University, College of Horticulture and Gardening, Jingzhou, Hubei 434025
  • Ying-Ning Zou Yangtze University, College of Horticulture and Gardening, Jingzhou, Hubei 434025,
  • Qiang-Sheng WU Yangtze University, College of Horticulture and Gardening, 88 Jingmi Road, 434025 Jingzhou; University of Hradec Kralove, Faculty of Science, Department of Chemistry, Hradec Kralove 50003
  • Kamil KUČA University of Hradec Kralove, Faculty of Science, Department of Chemistry, Hradec Kralove 50003 https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9664-1109
Keywords: biofertilizer; endophytic fungus; Piriformospora indica; symbiotic interaction


Piriformospora indica is a discovered endophytic fungus colonizing in roots of plants in 1998. The fungus can form the mycelium, mycelial roll, and pear-shaped spores in intercellular and intracellular regions of roots. The fungus colonizes various host plants and also realizes the pure culture in vitro without roots of host plants. P. indica shows many positive effects on host plants, including the promotion of plant growth, the enhancement of nutrient acquisition and stress tolerance, the improvement of disease resistance, and the promoted accumulation of bioactive substances. The commercial production of the fungal spores is established in bioreactor with nanostructured materials “zinc oxide” as nano embedded fungus, which provides provides changes into confers. The review simply summarized the biological characteristics of P. indica, physiological roles in plants, and potential utilization as a biofertilizer.


Metrics Loading ...


Abdelaziz ME, Abdelsattar M, Abdeldaym EA, Atia MA, Mahmoud AWM, Saad MM, Hirt H (2019). Piriformospora indica alters Na+/K+ homeostasis, antioxidant enzymes and LeNHX1 expression of greenhouse tomato grown under salt stress. Scientia Horticulturae 256:108532.

Achatz B, von Rüden S, Andrade D, Neumann E, Pons-Kühnemann J, Kogel KH, Walle F (2010). Root colonization by Piriformospora indica enhances grain yield in barley under diverse nutrient regimes by accelerating plant development. Plant and Soil 333(1-2):59-70.

Alga Z, Urs L, Güldener U, Ulrich U (2011). Endophytic life strategies decoded by genome and transcriptome analyses of the mutualistic root symbiont Piriformospora indica. PLoS Pathogens 7(10):e1002290.

Anith KN, Sreekumar A, Sreekumar J (2015). The growth of tomato seedlings inoculated with co-cultivated Piriformospora indica and Bacillus pumilus. Symbiosis 65(1):9-16.

Atia MAM, Abdeldaym EA, Abdelsattar M, Ibrahim DSS, Saleh I, Elwahab MA, Osman GH, … Abdelaziz ME (2019). Piriformospora indica promotes cucumber tolerance against root-knot nematode by modulating photosynthesis and innate responsive genes. Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences 27(1):279-287.

Bagde US, Prasad R, Varma A (2011). Influence of culture filtrate of Piriformospora indica on growth and yield of seed oil in Helianthus annus. Symbiosis 53(2):83-88.

Bagde US, Prasad R, Varma A (2014). Impact of culture filtrate of Piriformospora indica on biomass and biosynthesis of active ingredient aristolochic acid in Aristolochia elegans Mart. International Journal of Biology 6(1):29-37.

Baltruschat H, Fodor J, Harrach BD, Niemczyk E, Barna B, Gullner G, Zuccaro A (2008). Salt tolerance of barley induced by the root endophyte Piriformospora indica is associated with a strong increase in antioxidants. New Phytologist 180(2):501-510.

Barazani O, von Dahl CC, Baldwin IT (2007). Sebacina vermifera promotes the growth and fitness of Nicotiana attenuata by inhibiting ethylene signaling. Plant Physiology 144(2):1223-1232.

Bhatnagar VS, Bandyopadhyay P, Rajacharya GH, Sarkar S, Poluri KM, Kumar S (2019). Amelioration of biomass and lipid in marine alga by an endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica. Biotechnology for Biofuels 12(1):12-176.

Boller T, Felix G (2009). A renaissance of elicitors: perception of microbe-associated molecular patterns and danger signals by pattern-recognition receptors. Annual Review of Plant Biology 60(1):379-406.

Camehl I, Sherameti I, Seebald E, Johnson JM, Oelmüller R (2013). Role of defense compounds in the beneficial interaction between Arabidopsis thaliana and Piriformospora indica. In: Varma A, Kost G, Oelmüller R. (eds) Piriformospora indica. Soil Biology, vol 33. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg pp 239-250.

Camehl I, Sherameti I, Venus Y, Bethke G, Varma A, Lee J, Oelmüller R (2010). Ethylene signalling and ethylene-targeted transcription factors are required to balance beneficial and nonbeneficial traits in the symbiosis between the endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica and Arabidopsis thaliana. New Phytologist 185(4):1062-1073.

Chen YY, Lou BG, Gao QK, Lin FC (2013). Preliminary study on mechanisms of drought resistance in Brassica napus L. conferred by Piriformospora indica. Journal of Agricultural Biotechnology 21(3):272-281.

Das A, Tripathi S, Varma A (2017). Use of Piriformospora indica as potential biological hardening agent for endangered micropropagated Picrorhiza kurroa Royel ex Benth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, India Section B: Biological Sciences 87(3):799-805.

Felle HH, Waller F, Molitor A (2009). The mycorrhiza fungus Piriformospora indica induces fast root-surface pH signaling and primes systemic alkalinization of the leaf apoplast upon powdery mildew infection. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 22(9):1179-1185.

Ghabooli M, Khatabi B, Ahmadi FS, Sepehri M, Mirzaei M, Amirkhani A, Salekdeh GH (2013). Proteomics study reveals the molecular mechanisms underlying water stress tolerance induced by Piriformospora indica in barley. Journal of Proteomics 94:289-301.

Ghabooli M, Rostami M, Kaboosi E (2019). Combination effect of Piriformospora indica, chilling and gibberellic acid on seed germination traits of Kelussia odoratissima Mozaff. Journal of Medicinal Plants and By-product 8(1):33-40.

Ghaffari MR, Mirzaei M, Ghabooli M, Khatabi B, Wu YQ, Zabet-Moghaddam M, … Salekdeh GH (2019). Root endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica improves drought stress adaptation in barley by metabolic and proteomic reprogramming. Environmental and Experimental Botany 157:197-210.

Gosal SK, Karlupia A, Gosal SS (2010). Biotization with Piriformospora indica and Pseudomonas fluorescens improves survival rate, nutrient acquisition, field performance and saponin content of micropropagated Chlorophytum sp. Indian Journal of Biotechnology 9(3):289-297.

Hassani D, Khalid M, Huang D, Zhang YD (2019). Morphophysiological and molecular evidence supporting the augmentative role of Piriformospora indica in mitigation of salinity in Cucumis melo L. Acta Biochimica et Biophysica Sinica 51(3):301-312.

He JD, Dong T, Wu HH, Zou YN, Wu QS, Kuča K (2019). Mycorrhizas induce diverse responses of root TIP aquaporin gene expression to drought stress in trifoliate orange. Scientia Horticulturae 243:64-69.

He JD, Zou YN, Wu QS, Kuča K (2020). Mycorrhizas enhance drought tolerance of trifoliate orange by enhancing activities and gene expression of antioxidant enzymes. Scientia Horticultureae 262:108745.

Hilbert M, Voll LM, Ding Y (2012). Indole derivative production by the root endophyte Piriformospora indica is not required for growth promotion but for biotrophic colonization of barley roots. New Phytologist 196(2):520-534.

Jacobs S, Kogel KH, Patrick Schäfer (2013). Root-based innate immunity and its suppression by the mutualistic fungus Piriformospora indica. In: Varma A, Kost G, Oelmuller R (Eds). Piriformospora indica. Soil Biology, vol 33. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg pp 223-237.

Jisha S, Anith KN, Sabu KK (2019). The protective role of Piriformospora indica colonization in Centella asiatica (L.) in vitro under phosphate stress. Biocatalysis and Agricultural Biotechnology 19:101088.

Johnson JM, Thürich J, Petutschnig EK, Altschmied L, Meichsner D, Sherameti I, Furch AC (2018). A poly (A) ribonuclease controls the cellotriose-based interaction between Piriformospora indica and its host Arabidopsis. Plant Physiology 176(3):2496-2514.

Khalid M, Rahman SU, Huang DF (2019). Molecular mechanism underlying Piriformospora indica-mediated plant improvement/protection for sustainable agriculture. Acta Biochimica et Biophysica Sinica 51(3):229-242.

Khatabi B, Molitor A, Lindermayr C (2012). Ethylene supports colonization of plant roots by the mutualistic fungus Piriformospora indica. PLoS ONE 7(4):e35502.

Kumar M, Yadav V, Tuteja N (2009). Antioxidant enzyme activities in maize plants colonized with Piriformospora indica. Microbiology 155(3):780-790.

Kumar V, Rajauria G, Sahai V (2012). Culture filtrate of root endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica promotes the growth and lignan production of Linum album hairy root cultures. Process Biochemistry 47(6):901-907.

Kumar V, Sahai V, Bisaria VS (2011). High-density spore production of Piriformospora indica, a plant growth-promoting endophyte, by optimization of nutritional and cultural parameters. Bioresource Technology 102(3):3169-3175.

Kumar V, Sarma MVRK, Saharan K (2012). Effect of formulated root endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica and plant growth promoting rhizobacteria Fluorescent pseudomonads R62 and R81 on Vigna mungo. World Journal of Microbiology & Biotechnology 28(2):595-603.

Kumari R, Kishan H, Bhoon YK (2003). Colonization of cruciferous plants by Piriformospora indica. Current Science 85(12):1672-1674.

Lee YC, Johnson JM, Chien CT (2011). Growth promotion of Chinese cabbage and Arabidopsis by Piriformospora indica is not stimulated by mycelium-synthesized auxin. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 24(4):421-431.

Li D, Mensah RA, Liu F, Tian N, Qi Q, Yeh KW, … Lai ZX (2019). Effects of Piriformospora indica on rooting and growth of tissue-cultured banana (Musa acuminate cv. ‘Tianbaojiao’) seedlings. Scientia Horticulturae 257:108649.

Liang C, Wang R (2009) Anatomical and physiological divergences and compensatory effects in two Leymus chinensis (Poaceae) ecotypes in Northeast China. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 134(1-2):46-52.

Lin HF, Xiong J, Zhou HM, Chen CM, Lin FZ, Xu XM, Yeh KW (2019). Growth promotion and disease resistance induced in Anthurium colonized by the beneficial root endophyte Piriformospora indica. BMC Plant Biology 19(1):40.

Liu HC, Li MJ, Jin L, Tian DQ, Zhu KY, Zhang JQ, … Tang C (2019). Effects of Piriformospora indica on growth of oncidium seedling in vitro. Zhejiang Agriculture Sciences 60(4):642-645.

Lou BG, Sun C, Cai DD (2007). P. indica with multiple functions and its application prospects. Acta Phytophylacica Sinica 34(6):653-656.

Nassimi Z, Taheri P (2017). Endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica induced systemic resistance against rice sheath blight via affecting hydrogen peroxide and antioxidants. Biocontrol Science and Technology 27(2):252-267.

Nautiyal CS, Chauhan PS, DasGupta SM, Seem K, Varma A, Staddon WJ (2010). Tripartite interactions among Paenibacillus lentimorbus NRRL B-30488, Piriformospora indica DSM 11827, and Cicer arietinum L. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology 26(8):1393-1399.

Prasad D, Verma N, Bakshi M, Narayan OP, Singh AK, Dua M, Johri AK (2018). Functional characterization of a magnesium transporter of root endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica. Frontiers in Microbiology 9:3231.

Qiang X, Zechmann B, Reitz MU (2012). The mutualistic fungus Piriformospora indica colonizes Arabidopsis roots by inducing an endoplasmic reticulum stress-triggered caspase-dependent cell death. Plant Cell 24(2):794-809.

Rabiey M, Ullah I, Shaw MW (2015). The endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica protects wheat from Fusarium crown rot disease in simulated UK autumn conditions. Plant Pathology 64(5):1029-1040.

Rafiqi M, Jelonek L, Akum NF (2013). Effector candidates in the secretome of Piriformospora indica, a ubiquitous plant-associated fungus. Frontiers in Plant Science 4:228.

Sarma MVRK, Kumar V, Saharan K, Srivastava R, Sharma AK, Prakash A, Bisaria VS (2011). Application of inorganic carrier-based formulations of fluorescent pseudomonads and Piriformospora indica on tomato plants and evaluation of their efficacy. Journal of Applied Microbiology 111(2):456-466.

Schäfer P, Pfiffi S, Voll LM, Zajic D, Chandler PM, Waller F, Kogel KH (2009). Manipulation of plant innate immunity and gibberellin as factor of compatibility in the mutualistic association of barley roots with Piriformospora indica. The Plant Journal 59(3):461-474.

Serfling A, Wirsel SG, Lind V (2007). Performance of the biocontrol fungus Piriformospora indica on wheat under greenhouse and field conditions. Phytopathology 97(4):523-531.

Shahollari B, Vadassery J, Varma A (2007). A leucine-rich repeat protein is required for growth promotion and enhanced seed production mediated by the endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Journal 50(1):1-13.

Sharma G, Agrawal V (2013). Marked enhancement in the artemisinin content and biomass productivity in Artemisia annua L. shoots co-cultivated with Piriformospora indica. World Journal of Microbiology & Biotechnology 29(6):1133-1138.

Sharma P, Kharkwal AC, Abdin MZ (2014). Piriformospora indica improves micropropagation, growth and phytochemical content of Aloe vera L. plants. Symbiosis 64(1):11-23.

Sherameti I, Venus Y, Drzewiecki C, Tripathi S, Dan VM, Nitz I, Oelmüller R (2008). PYK10, a β-glucosidase located in the endoplasmatic reticulum, is crucial for the beneficial interaction between Arabidopsis thaliana and the endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica. Plant Journal 54(3):428-439.

Singh A, Sharma J, Rexer KH (2000). Plant productivity determinants beyond minerals, water and light: Piriformospora indica, a revolutionary plant growth promoting fungus. Current Science 79(11):1548-1554.

Stein E, Molitor A, Kogel KH, Waller F (2008). Systemic resistance in Arabidopsis conferred by the mycorrhizal fungus Piriformospora indica requires jasmonic acid signaling and the cytoplasmic function of NPR1. Plant and Cell Physiology 49(11):1747-1751.

Sun C, Johnson JM, Cai D (2010). Piriformospora indica confers drought tolerance in Chinese cabbage leaves by stimulating antioxidant enzymes, the expression of drought-related genes and the plastid-localized CAS protein. Journal of Plant Physiology 167(12):1009-1017.

Tripathi S, Das A, Chandra A (2015). Development of carrier-based formulation of root endophyte Piriformospora indica and its evaluation on Phaseolus vulgaris L. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology 31(2):337-344.

Trzewik A, Maciorowski R, Klocke E, Orlikowska T (2020). The influence of Piriformospora indica on the resistance of two rhododendron cultivars to Phytophthora cinnamomi and P. plurivora. Biological Control 140:104-121.

Unnikumar KR, Sree KS, Varma A (2013). Piriformospora indica: a versatile root endophytic symbiont. Symbiosis 60(3):107-113.

Vadassery J, Ranf S, Drzewiecki C (2010). A cell wall extract from the endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica promotes growth of Arabidopsis seedlings and induces intracellular calcium elevation in roots. Plant Journal 59(2):193-206.

Vadassery J, Tripathi S, Prasad R, Varma A, Oelmüller R (2009). Monodehydroascorbate reductase 2 and dehydroascorbate reductase 5 are crucial for a mutualistic interaction between Piriformospora indica and Arabidopsis. Journal of Plant Physiology 166(12):1263-1274.

Varma A (2017). Cultivation of Piriformospora indica with nanomaterial in bioreactor: In: Varma A, Prasad R, Tuteja N (2017). (eds) Mycorrhiza: Eco-physiology, secondary metabolites, nanomaterials. Springer, Cham, pp 303-310.

Varma A, Singh A, Sudha Sahay NS, Sharma J, Roy A, Kumari M, … Kranner I (2001). Piriformospora indica: an axenically culturable mycorrhiza-like endosymbiotic fungus. In: Hock B. (2001) (eds) Fungal Associations. The mycota (A comprehensive treatise on fungi as experimental systems for basic and applied research), vol 9. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg pp 125-150.

Verma A, Praveen K, Kailash U (2017). Lectin protein kinase is induced in plant roots in response to the endophytic fungus, Piriformospora indica. Plant Molecular Biology Reporter 35:323-332.

Verma S, Varma A, Rexer KH, Hassel A, Kost G, Sarbhoy A, … Franken P (1998). Piriformospora indica, gen. et sp. nov., a new root-colonizing fungus. Mycologia 90:896-903.

Waller F, Achatz B, Baltruschat H (2005). The endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica reprograms barley to salt-stress tolerance, disease resistance, and higher yield. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 102(38):13386-13391.

Wu MY, Wei Q, Xu L, Li HZ, Oelmüller R, Zhang WY (2018). Piriformospora indica enhances phosphorus absorption by stimulating acid phosphatase activities and organic acid accumulation in Brassica napus. Plant and Soil 432(1-2):333-344.

Wu QS, He JD, Srivastava AK, Zou YN, Kuča K (2019). Mycorrhizas enhance drought tolerance of citrus by altering root fatty acid compositions and their saturation levels. Tree Physiology 39:1149-1158.

Yadav V, Kumar M, Deep DK, Kumar H (2011). A phosphate transporter from the root endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica plays a role in phosphate transport to the host plant. Plant Signaling & Behavior 285(5):26532-26544.

Ye W, Shen CH, Lin YL, Chen PJ, Xu XM, Oelmüller R, … Lai ZX (2014). Growth promotion-related miRNAs in Oncidium orchid roots colonized by the endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica. PLoS ONE 9(1):e84920.

Zhang F, Zou YN, Wu QS, Kuča K (2020). Arbuscular mycorrhizas modulate root polyamine metabolism to enhance drought tolerance of trifoliate orange. Environmental and Experimental Botany 171:103926.

Zhang WY, Wang J, Xu L, Wang AA, Huang L, Du HW, … Oelmüller R (2018). Drought stress responses in maize are diminished by Piriformospora indica. Plant Signaling & Behavior 13(1):e1414121.

Zhu PY, Han B, Wang XY, Zhang ZH, Chang LL (2019). Study on the remediation of cadmium pollution in soil by combination of Medicago sativa and Piriformospora indica. Environmental Science & Technology 42(6):21-27.

Zou YN, Wu HH, Giri B, Wu QS, Kuča K (2019). Mycorrhizal symbiosis down-regulates or does not change root aquaporin expression in trifoliate orange under drought stress. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 144:292-299.

How to Cite
YANG, L., CAO, J.-L., Zou, Y.-N., WU, Q.-S., & KUČA, K. (2020). Piriformospora indica: a root endophytic fungus and its roles in plants. Notulae Botanicae Horti Agrobotanici Cluj-Napoca, 48(1), 1-13. https://doi.org/10.15835/nbha48111761
Review Articles