Trichoderma species - opportunistic, avirulent plant symbionts.
Trichoderma spp. are free-living fungi that are common in soil and root ecosystems. Recent discoveries show that they are opportunistic, avirulent plant symbionts, as well as parasites of other fungi. At least some strains establish robust and long-lasting colonizations of root surfaces and penetrate into the epidermis and a few cells below this level. They produce or release a variety of compounds that induce localized or systemic resistance responses, and this explains their lack of pathogenicity to plants. These root-microorganism associations cause substantial changes to the plant proteome and metabolism. Plants are protected from numerous classes of plant pathogen by responses that are similar to systemic acquired resistance and rhizobacteria-induced systemic resistance. Root colonization by Trichoderma spp. also frequently enhances root growth and development, crop productivity, resistance to abiotic stresses and the uptake and use of nutrients.