Endophytic fungi living asymptomatically within plant tissues have been found in virtually all plant species. Endophytes are considered plant mutualists: They receive nutrition and protection from the host plant while the host plant may benefit from enhanced competitive abilities and increased resistance to herbivores, pathogens, and various abiotic stresses. Limited evidence also indicates that endophytes may influence population dynamics, plant community diversity, and ecosystem function. However, most of the empirical evidence for this mutualism and its ecological consequences has been based on a few agronomic grass endophytes. More recent studies suggest that endophyte-host plant interactions are variable and range from antagonistic to mutualistic. A more comprehensive view of the ecology and evolution of endophytes and host plants is needed. This article discusses how life history traits—such as fungal reproduction and pattern of infections and genotypic variation and ecological factors—influence the direction and strength of the endophyte-host plant interaction.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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