In addition to symbiotically colonizing roots, Trichoderma spp. predate on other, often pathogenic fungi in order to obtain the nutrients inside the target fungus.
As Trichoderma spp. grow and develop best in the presence of an abundance of healthy roots, they have evolved numerous mechanisms to both predate other fungi and to enhance plant and root growth. These interactions include hyperparasitism, competition, and antibiosis.
Hyperparasitism is established when there is direct antagonist contact with a pathogen. Stages involved are: pathogen recognition, attack, gradual penetration of the pathogen cells resulting in death. This process depends on CWDE (Cell Wall Degrading Enzymes) lytic enzymes. These enzymes are synthesised by Trichoderma species that facilitate hydrolytic degradation of pathogen cell walls and are composed of chitin and glucan polysaccharides. Trichoderma species are also capable of producing cell wall degrading enzymes such as cellulase, xylanase, pectinase, glucanase, lipase, amylase, arabinase, and protease. Chitinases is the most important lytic enzyme, instrumental in the degradation of cell walls of plant pathogenic fungi.
A list of characteristics include:
- Competition for nutrients or space
- Tolerance to stress through enhanced root and plant development
- Solubilization and sequestration of inorganic nutrients
- Induced resistance
- Inactivation of the pathogen enzyme activity
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