Sustainable Agricultural Practices Using Beneficial Fungi Under Changing Climate Scenario

Sustainable Agricultural Practices Using Beneficial Fungi Under Changing Climate Scenario

CHAPTER 2 Sustainable Agricultural Practices Using Beneficial Fungi Under Changing Climate Scenario Vipin Kumar Singh, Monika Singh, Sandeep Kumar Si...

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CHAPTER 2

Sustainable Agricultural Practices Using Beneficial Fungi Under Changing Climate Scenario Vipin Kumar Singh, Monika Singh, Sandeep Kumar Singh, Chandramohan Kumar and Ajay Kumar Department of Botany, Center of Advanced Study in Botany, Institute of Science, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India

Contents 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4

Introduction Fungi as a Biofertilizer Fungi as a Biocontrol Agent Application of Fungi in Bioremediation of Contaminated Soils (Mycoremediation) 2.5 Conclusion References

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2.1 INTRODUCTION In the recent past, chemical fertilizers and pesticides have been broadly used in the conventional agriculture system to enhance the yield and productivity of crops but the continuous application of chemical fertilizers directly or indirectly plays a significant role in the changing climatic conditions. Currently, it has been estimated that the population of the world could reach approximately 9 billion by 2050 (Béné et al., 2015). Therefore, to maintain the current status of food security for the extra population using the limited land available is a major challenge. Presently farmers use a huge amount of chemical fertilizers to achieve maximum yields, but these chemicals adversely affect the texture and productivity of plants and soil (Galloway et al., 2008; Youssef and Eissa, 2014). To overcome the problem of chemicals pesticides and achieve the food security of global rising population there is immediate need for sustainable approach of agriculture. Sustainable agriculture is considered as an advanced or Climate Change and Agricultural Ecosystems DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-816483-9.00002-5

Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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broad concept within agriculture, in which the maximum output is gained on the minimum cost without adversely affecting the needs of the future. For the past few decades, beneficial microbes, such as plant growth promoting bacteria, fungi, or cyanobacteria, have been used in sustainable agriculture as plant or soil inoculants to enhance crop production by acting as a biofertilizer, biopesticide, or by managing biotic or abiotic stress tolerance (Singh et al., 2017a,b, 2018; Kumar et al., 2018; Lengai and Muthomi, 2018; Glick, 2018). Fungus is an eukaryotic microbes comprising of various unicellular or multicellular species which could be either beneficial or pathogenic. Currently and for the past two decades fungi have been used, singly or in co-inoculation with bacterial genera, in sustainable agriculture as biofertilizer, biocontrol, or in the management of biotic or abiotic stress (Table 2.1, Fig. 2.1). Like other microbial biofertilizers, fungi have also been directly or indirectly involved in growth promotion or disease management via different mechanisms. One such mechanism involves the solubilization of phosphate, potash, zinc, etc. Some of the most common fungi used in agriculture include Aspergillus sp. Penicillium sp. Fusarium sp., Saccharomyces, Trichoderma, Mucor, etc. (Pradhan and Sukla, 2006; Khan et al., 2011; Zahoor et al., 2017; Fraceto et al., 2018).

2.2 FUNGI AS A BIOFERTILIZER Biofertilizers are ecofriendly, inexpensive, are an important source of essential nutrients for plants, and increase soil fertility as well as play a vital role in improving soil nutrient status and, thus, crop productivity. Biofertilizers are living formulations consisting of advantageous microorganisms, including fungi, bacteria, and actinomycetes, that can be applied successfully to seeds, seedlings, plant roots, or soil and which help in the mobilization as well as the accessibility of nutrients due to their inherent biological activities (Pal et al., 2015). Fungal biofertilizers, when applied in a natural field system either alone or in combination, are known to cause a direct or indirect beneficial impact on plant development, growth, and yield through several methods (Rai et al., 2013). The roots of different plant groups, such as herbs, shrubs, trees, aquatics, xerophytes, epiphytes, hydrophytes, and terrestrial plants, growing in natural conditions, have been reported to develop mycorrhizal associations when grown in conditions with a low

Table 2.1 Fungi as a biofertilizer and biocontrol agents in the field of sustainable agriculture S. No.

Name of fungus

Plant species

Properties

Reference

1.

Ustilago esculenta JYC070, Sporisorium reilianum YL-9, Hannaella coprosmaensis YL-10 Penicillium sp. RDA01, Penicillium sp. NICS01, Penicillium sp. DFC01, Kluyveromyces walti, Pachytrichospora transvaalensis, Sacharromycopsis cataegensis Lentinus connatus

Drosera indica L.

Biofertilizer

Sun et al. (2014)

Sesamum indicum

Radhakrishnan et al. (2014)

Beta vulgaris

Biofertilizer and biocontrol Biofertilizer

Arachis hypogaea

Biocontrol

Azadirachta indica A. Juss Zea mays

Biofertilizer

Lakshmanan et al. (2008) Hirose et al. (2001)

Biofertilizer

Wu et al. (2005)

Oryza sativa

Biofertilizer

Vicia faba

Biofertilizer

Pisum sativum

Biocontrol Biocontrol

Amprayn et al. (2012) Mohamed and Gomaa (2005) Nelson et al. (1988) Alam et al. (2011)

2.

3.

4.

5. 6.

Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana Glomus intraradices; Azotobacter chroococcum; Bacillus megaterium; (Bacillus mucilaginous) Candida tropicalis HY (CtHY) C. tropicalis

8.

Trichoderma koningii Trichoderma harzianum Penicillium sp. EU0013

9.

Penicillium citrinum VFI-51

Solanum lycopersicum; Brassica oleracea Sorghum bicolor

10. 11.

Penicillium adametzioides Saccharomycopsis schoenii

Vitis vinifera Citrus X sinensis

Biocontrol Biocontrol

12. 13. 14.

Malus domestica Malus domestica Capsicum annuum

Biocontrol Biocontrol Biocontrol

Helianthus annuus; Ricinus communis P. sativum

Biocontrol

Allium cepa

Biocontrol

18. 19.

Leucosporidium scottii At 17 Pichia angusta Trichoderma virens IMI-392430, T. pseudokoningii IMI-392431, T. harzianum IMI-392432, T. harzianum IMI-392433 T. harzianum IMI-392434 T. harzianum Th4d SC Trichoderma asperellum Tv5SC Streptomyces lydicus WYEC108 Penicillium roqueforti; Penicillium viridicatum Candida oleophila Pichia membranifaciens

Vitis vinifera Vitis vinifera

Biocontrol Biocontrol

20.

Pichia guilliermondii

Glycine max

Biocontrol

7.

15. 16. 17.

Biocontrol

Biocontrol

Agamy et al. (2013)

Sreevidya and Gopalakrishnan (2016) Ahmed et al. (2015) Pimenta et al. (2008) Vero et al. (2013) Fiori et al. (2008) Rahman et al. (2012)

Navaneetha et al. (2015) Yuan and Crawford (1995) Khokhar et al. (2012) Droby et al. (2002) Santos and Marquina (2004) Paster et al. (1993)

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Figure 2.1 Overview of plant growth promoting fungi in sustainable agriculture.

bioavailability of essential elements, including phosphorus, nitrogen, zinc, copper, iron, sulfur, and boron (Zhu et al., 2008). Phosphate solubilizing fungal biofertilizers are one of the most commonly employed biological agents for improving plant growth and development by facilitating phosphorus uptake in plants. Fungi possessing a phosphate solubilizing property contribute significantly to the availability of soil phosphates to plants. Seven phosphate solubilizing fungi, including Trichosporon beigelii, Rhodotorula aurantiaca A, Kluyveromyces walti, Saccharomycopsis schoenii Cryptococcus luteolus, Zygoascus hellenicus, Penicillium purpurogenum var. rubrisclerotium, Neosartorya fisheri var. fischeri, and Candida montana, have been reported from Teff rhizosphere soil (Gizaw et al., 2017) and to enhance phosphate availability to plants. In addition, phosphate solubilizing fungi belonging to genera Aspergillus, Penicillium sp., and Fusarium have also been reported to be found in the rhizospheric region of different plants (Elias et al., 2016). Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Chaetomium are fungal genera of widespread occurrence. One of the most commonly employed fungi for biofertilizer production is Trichoderma, which is usually present in agricultural soils. Trichoderma sp. inhabiting the rhizosphere can also interact with and

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parasitize other fungi. Trichoderma sp. have long been recognized for their ability to augment plant productivity by enhancing crop nutrition and nutrient acquisition. Furthermore, Trichoderma sp. are also known to produce metabolites that serve as a biofungicide against disease-causing fungal pathogens (Lindsey and Baker, 1967; Chang et al., 1986; Harman, 2000; Yedidia et al., 2001; Vinale et al., 2009; Pal et al., 2015). Soil inoculation with Trichoderma sp. and its utilization as a culture filtrate has been reported to enhance plant growth and biomass production. Its ease of cultivation under laboratory conditions, has made possible of the application of this fungus as a model organism not only for exhaustive evaluation of beneficial plantmicrobe interactions but also as a new tool for the enhancement of plant productivity (Varma et al., 1999). Currently, the application of yeast as a biological fertilizer has gained considerable interest because of its biological properties and safety to humans as well as to the natural environment (Agamy et al., 2013). Brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), a byproduct of the brewing industry, has been widely utilized as biofertilizer. The amendment of yeasts (either live or dead) to soil has been demonstrated to substantially enhance the nitrogen and phosphorus availability to the roots and shoots of Solanum lycopersicum L. and sugarcane plants. Moreover, yeast amendment to soil was also reported to enhance the root to shoot ratio in both plants and the induction of speciesspecific morphological alterations leading to enhanced tillering in sugarcane and higher shoot biomass in S. lycopersicum L. Brewer’s yeast is an inexpensive biofertilizer that enhances plant nutrient status and plant potential, thus, aiding plant growth and nutrient uptake (Lonhienne et al., 2014). Phytohormones are the small signal molecules responsible for the coordination of physiological processes and the regulation of plant growth and development. They play important roles in regulating plants’ adaptation to varying abiotic and biotic stress factors at low concentrations (Singh et al., 2017a,b). Of late the contribution of microbially synthesized indole-acetic-acid (IAA) in plantmicrobe interactions have gained considerable interest. Several bacteria (Radhakrishnan et al., 2013; Ali et al., 2009; Sachdev et al., 2009; Idris et al., 2007), fungi, and yeasts, capable of IAA synthesis can enhance plant growth; therefore, IAA synthesizing microbes have been recommended for their potential application as biofertilizer (Waqas et al., 2012; Ahmad et al., 2008; El-Tarabily, 2004; Sasikala and Ramana, 1997). Several yeast strains: Aureobasidium pullulans YL-11; Candida sp. JYC072; Cryptococcus flavus YL-2, YL-3, YL-12, JYC071, and JYC073;

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Pseudozyma aphidis YL-8 and YL-16, isolated from leaf samples of Drosera indica L., and all the strains significantly secrete Indole acetic acid during plant growth promotion activity test. These secretes showed their potential ability to act as bio fertilizer in sustainable agriculture (Sun et al., 2014). The synthesis of IAA by yeast under laboratory conditions was influenced by changes in the pH and temperature of the medium. Approximately 80% of plant species are reported to have mutualistic association with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). Partial or complete degeneration of AMF activity in soil can lead to significant changes in soil properties, that directly or indirectly helped in the enhancement of agriculture production. AMF confer resistance to plants against pathogens, heavy metals, environmental stresses, and facilitate plant growth by alleviating the harmful impact of disease-causing factors. AMF interaction with plants reduces the chances of disease development induced by different phytopathogens (Hildebrandt et al., 2007; Ene and Alexandru, 2008). Piriformospora indica, a member of the order Sebacinales, is highly variable in its mycorrhizal associations and its efficacy at enhancing plant growth. P. indica, a commonly found root endophyte, is known to infect several genera of flowering plants, mosses, and ferns (Varma et al., 2012). Rhizospheric interaction by P. indica enhances plant growth, early blossoming, seed production, synthesis of natural products, and adaptation to both abiotic and biotic stress factors. P. indica displays an inherent ability to colonize a wide spectrum of host plant species through alterations in the phytohormone synthesis signaling pathway during interaction. Host root interaction with P. indica enhances the performance of the host plant in many aspects, for instance, increased root production through indole-3-acetic acid synthesis results in improved nutrient uptake, and thus, increased crop growth and productivity. It can also stimulate systemic resistance in host plants against fungal and viral diseases by altering the signal transduction pathway. In addition, P. indica colonization may induce diverse antioxidant defense system responses and the expression of stress related genes responsible for plant stress tolerance. Hence, P. indica can help in the acclimatization of micropropagated plantlets, and eliminate the effect of transplantation stress. Furthermore, it can also take part in several complex symbiotic interactions, including three component interactions, and can improve the population dynamics of plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR). In conclusion, P. indica can be used for enhanced plant growth, improvement in soil fertility, resistance induction in host plants, and protection against environmental stresses, as well as against pathogenic microbes (Gill et al., 2016).

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2.3 FUNGI AS A BIOCONTROL AGENT Currently, “biocontrol” has emerged as a rapidly growing research area with a potential role in enhanced plant yield and food production. The phenomena may help to sustain the quality of food crops and to minimize the risks resulting from indiscriminate utilization of synthetic pesticides and hazardous chemicals. Plant diseases are one of the major factors responsible for 20% to 40% annual loss in global crop productivity. Although the development of disease resistant varieties, water management practices, and new techniques in agronomy and agricultural practices have greatly supported the effective management of plant diseases, there are still several pathogens for which synthetic chemicals are broadly being used for disease management. The use of biocontrol agents against various pathogens is an attractive choice because they have emerged as the most common and important natural factor responsible for large population insect deaths in nature (Villa et al., 2017). Several postharvest diseases can be managed biologically using wild yeast species having antagonistic properties. Research in this area has considerably attracted scientists worldwide. The development of effective strains as a substitute to synthetic fungicides can be helpful in effective management of postharvest losses of fruits, vegetables, and grains. A typical yeast-based biocontrol system comprises of three different trophic level interactions involving host, pathogen, and yeast species. All components of a biocontrol system are considerably influenced by various factors including temperature, pH, and UV light as well as biotic and abiotic stress factors. In addition, the preparation of biocontrol agents is severely affected by different abiotic factors leading to changes in their functionality. Therefore, thorough knowledge regarding the survivability of biocontrol agents under given environmental conditions and the development of procedures to make them stress tolerant are key factors for maintaining their effectiveness and commercial exploitation. Several experimental studies have been carried out to further understand the reaction of antagonistic yeasts under varied environmental factors in order to augment stress tolerance and efficacy, and the associated mechanisms that may result in enhanced adaptation to a given stress (Sui et al., 2015). Six isolates of S. cerevisiae were employed to control losses resulting from Colletotrichum acutatum. The biocontrol activity observed by these isolates was due to the synthesis and secretion of antifungal compounds, effective competing behavior for available nutrients, inhibition of

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pathogen growth, and the production of a cell wall degrading enzyme upon contact with fungal cells. The isolates were found to be equally effective in disease management even on detached flowers. This is the first study on the role of S. cerevisiae as a biocontrol agent against post bloom fruit drop, thus, advocating for the significant application of these strains in the control of citrus diseases (Lopes et al., 2015) Geotrichum citri-aurantii is reported to be responsible for Sour rot disease in citrus fruits during postharvest storage. Sour rot disease was markedly controlled due to the synthesis and secretion of hydrolytic enzymes after the application of yeast strains ACBL-23, ACBL-44, and ACBL-77. Strains ACBL-23, ACBL-44, and ACBL-77, controlled the disease effectively and were discriminated as Rhodotorula minuta, Candida azyma, and A. pullulans, respectively. Thus, C. azyma was firstly reported to possess biocontrol activity (Ferraz et al., 2016). Endophytic fungal strains procured from strawberry leaves, have been evaluated for their ability to control the activity of Duponchelia fovealis. A total of 517 fungi belonging to 13 genera were isolated. Among them, eight genera belonging to Aspergillus, Diaporthe, Paecilomyces, and Cladosporium were selected for biocontrol assay against larvae of D. fovealis. The fungus Paecilomyces exhibited the most larvicidal activity (Amatuzzi et al., 2018). The occurrence of tomato wilt disease caused by Fusarium, often reported in regions with repeated tomato cultivation, has resulted in huge loss of tomato productivity (Rangaswami, 1988). Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. lycopersici is a well-recognized tomato specific phytopathogen globally (Walker, 1969). Among other tomato phytopathogens are the fungal genera Botrytis cinerea and Alternaria solani (responsible for early blight in tomato). These fungal phytopathogens are quite common and are more harmful under environmental conditions such as high humidity and high precipitation with expression of disease symptoms in the form of damping off, rotting, blights as well as extensive leaf fall (de la Noval et al., 2007). The biocontrol activity of Verticillium leptobactrum HR1, in terms of nematicidal and fungicidal potential, has been described against the tomato pathogens Meloidogyne javanica and F. oxysporum f.sp. lycopersici under laboratory conditions. The tested biocontrol agent was found to be effective in reducing crop loss caused by F. oxysporum f.sp. lycopersici. Maximum nematicidal efficiency was also noticed in a greenhouse experiment. The tested biocontrol fungus markedly improved plant growth, i.e., total length and biomass. The loss in productivity caused by these plant pathogens was significantly reduced by inoculation of V. leptobactrum into the

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soil as compared to chemical treatment methods. The isolate designated as HR1 demonstrated strong biocontrol efficacy against wilt disease induced by F. oxysporum f.sp. lycopersici (Hajji-Hedfi et al., 2018). Alam et al. (2011) presented the effectiveness of plant growth promoting fungus, Penicillium sp. EU0013 against Fusarium wilt in S. lycopersicum L. and Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata. Similarly, Rhizoctonia strains (HBNR), G1, L2, W1, and W7 have also been reported for the management of Fusarium wilt in tomato (Muslim et al., 2003). Mushrooms have been exploited for medicinal as well as food purposes for a long time. The role of a balanced diet in the regulation of vital human physiological activities and thus overall health is now widely accepted. To date, several studies have declared the medicinal properties of mushrooms, which were traditionally used because of their antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral nature in addition to their utilization as a food source (Wani et al., 2010). Mushrooms are known to contain a diverse array of biological molecules, including phenolics, flavonoids, steroids, glycopeptides, terpenes, coumarins, alkaloids, and phenyl propanoids, which impart different biological activities (Wang and Ng, 2004; Periasamy, 2005; Carbonero et al., 2006; Iwalokun et al., 2007). The antimicrobial responses of compounds from a few mushroom species, such as Amanita caesarea, Armillaria mellea, Chroogomphus rutilus, Clavariadelphus truncates, Clitocybe geotropa, Ganoderma sp., Hydnum repandum, Hygrophorus agathosmus, Lenzites betulina, Leucoagaricus pudicus, and Paxillus involutus, have been evaluated against a few bacterial and fungal species, including Escherichia coli, Enterobacter aerogenes, Salmonella typhimurium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Bacillus subtilis, Candida albicans, and S. cerevisiae. Cellular extract from H. agathosmus was demonstrated to possess inhibitory potential against both yeast and bacteria (Yamac and Bilgili, 2006). Cellular crude filtrate from Pleurotus eryngii var. ferulae was also reported to exhibit antimicrobial activity against selected bacterial and fungal strains (Akyuz et al., 2010). One can assume differing behavior of different strains of biocontrol agents under combination and individual treatment. The efficacy of two different strains of Trichoderma harzianum, that is, Th1 and Th2, against the phytopathogen A. mellea, alone and in combination was demonstrated by Raziq and Fox (2005). Strain Th2 alone demonstrated strong inhibitory action over the pathogen as compared to a combination treatment protecting 75% of plantations. The experiments were also conducted in order to further understand the behavior of different antagonistic biocontrol agents.

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The combination treatment was able to enhance the survivability of treated plants. Their interaction with the pathogen improved the activity of all fungal antagonists except Trichoderma hamatum and Chaetopelma olivaceum.

2.4 APPLICATION OF FUNGI IN BIOREMEDIATION OF CONTAMINATED SOILS (MYCOREMEDIATION) The rapid development of industries, indiscriminate use of agrochemicals, and high population growth has resulted in the degradation of natural ecosystems. These activities have introduced large amounts of contaminants into the environment, such as petroleum hydrocarbons and heavy metal/metalloids, which has emerged as a major calamity for forthcoming generations. Currently, numerous physicochemical treatment methods have been developed to solve the problem of environmental pollution but they have not gained much success at ground level (Akcil et al., 2015). Physicochemical methods suffer from limitations such as the production of large amounts of secondary products, their costly nature, and their hazardous impact on human health and the environment. Moreover, often the byproduct produced during treatment may be more harmful as compared to the parent compound. On the other hand, bioremediation techniques based on vital cellular activities are inexpensive, effective, efficient, environment friendly (Deshmukh et al., 2016) and produce negligible amounts of secondary sludge during the conversion of toxic compounds into nontoxic compounds. The process is based on the application of suitable microorganisms or plant systems as a whole that possess the specific biological activities required for efficient treatment of contaminated soil or water systems (Gillespie and Philp, 2013). Bioremediation techniques can be broadly categorized into in situ and ex situ methods. An in situ method would treat a given contaminant at the site of origin while ex situ methods are based on the treatment of contaminants at a different location from their original site, that is, the removal of contaminants from a site and their treatment at another site. Ex situ treatment of contaminated sites is, thus, more expensive in contrast to in situ treatment techniques (Rhodes, 2014). Due to their rapid adaptability conferred by diverse metabolic activities, fungi are widespread in nature with the soil system acting as a major reservoir. In soil systems, fungi can sustain under diverse environmental circumstances by producing different types of spores. Most importantly,

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fungi make a significant contribution to the maintenance of ecosystem functioning because of their decomposing behavior. Large habitat variability and the ability to synthesize different enzymes with unique features makes them a suitable candidate for the purpose of environmental cleanup. The remediation of hydrocarbon contaminated soil using different fungal strains is described by D’Annibale et al. (2006). Out of nine fungal strains isolated from contaminated sites, three fungal strains, namely Allescheriella sp. strain DABAC 1, Stachybotrys sp. strain DABAC 3, and Phlebia sp. strain DABAC 9, were employed for contaminant removal based on the synthesis of lignin modifying enzymes (LMEs) and efficient degradation of Poly R-478. The native fungal isolates were tested for their ability to degrade different hydrocarbons along with their survivability. The selected fungi synthesized the important enzymes, peroxidase and laccase, in the presence of soil with high metal content and subalkaline pH, even after 30 days of treatment indicating their suitability for the management of soils polluted with aromatic hydrocarbons. Interestingly, all the isolated strains demonstrated active removal of naphthalene, dichloroaniline isomers, o-hydroxybiphenyl, and 1,10 -binaphthalene. Stachybotrys sp. strain DABAC 3 was identified as the most efficient due to its ability to substantially remove the noxious compounds, 9,10-anthracenedione and 7H-benz[DE]anthracen-7-one. A germination assay and mortality test revealed the alleviation of soil toxicity conferred by fungal enzymatic activities. White rot fungi, so called because of the appearance of wood upon degradation of lignin through the action of fungal enzymes, are of immense importance in the treatment of contaminated systems. Lignin degrading enzymes, commonly referred to as LMEs, consist of three different enzymes, that is, laccase, Mn-peroxidase, and lignin peroxidase (Thurston, 1994). To date, several studies have been performed in order to design and develop biological treatment systems based on white rot fungi. Yateem et al. (1998) described the potential of three different white rot fungi (Phanerochaete chrysosporium, Pleurotus ostreatus, and Coriolus versicolor) for the decontamination of oil polluted soil. Different factors, such as inoculum density, presence/absence of nitrogen in media, and strains, were taken into consideration to observe the impact on pollutant degradation efficacy. C. versicolor was identified as the most effective candidate for the intended purpose as it was able to reduce the petroleum hydrocarbon content by up to 78%. The presence of nitrogen as well as an increase in

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the inoculum density improved the biodegradation potential of white rot fungi. A microcosm study revealed the growth of other soil inhabiting microbes under nutrient enriched conditions, thus, facilitating the removal of petroleum hydrocarbons. The study suggested the possible application of white rot fungi in the management of oil contaminated soils. The over-application of pesticides to control pest insects and plant diseases in agriculture has contaminated soil as well as agricultural produce, thus, causing serious health hazards. This over application of pesticides has resulted in changes in soil physicochemical and biological properties, thus, affecting crop productivity. The application of fungi for the treatment of pesticide contaminated soil in the current scenario is imperative. One of the most commonly used pesticides, that is, chlorpyrifos, was shown to undergo degradation by fungus (Verticillium sp. DSP) in culture medium, soil, and Brassica chinensis L. (Fang et al., 2008). The rate of chlorpyrifos degradation by fungi was found to be enhanced with increases in its concentration up until it reached 100 mg/L. Further increases in pesticide concentration had an inhibitory impact on fungal degradation characteristics. A higher rate of degradation was observed at neutral pH as compared to acidic and alkaline conditions. The rate of degradation was higher at 37°C in contrast to 15°C and 20°C. Chlorpyrifos degradation in contaminated soil inoculated with test fungi was significantly higher in comparison to untreated ones. The half-lives of chlorpyrifos in fungi treated soil and on B. chinensis L. were markedly reduced under both greenhouse and field conditions. Bhatt et al. (2002) demonstrated the potential of white rot fungi, including Irpex lacteus and P. ostreatus, for the treatment of polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contaminated industrial soils. The tested fungi were able to degrade soil contaminated with seven aromatic compounds containing, namely fluorene, phenanthrene, anthracene, fluoranthene, pyrene, chrysene, and benzo[a]anthracene. I. lacteus was more efficient as compared to P. ostreatus. The industrial soil system, after 15 days of fungal inoculation, was proven to be significantly less toxic in contrast to untreated soil as revealed by seed (Brassica alba) germination assay and bioluminescence tests. The potential ability of 160 fungal strains isolated from petroleum contaminated sites were evaluated by Marchand et al. (2017). Factors such as soil type, nutrient media composition, and strains were taken into consideration while determining their efficiency in contaminant degradation. The tolerance of isolated strains toward raw petroleum substrates were

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based on colorimetric test utilizing 2,6-dichlorophenolindophenol and p-iodonitrotetrazolium. Degradation potential was also checked in the presence of a mixture of four different PAHs. There were no significant differences in the ability of pollutant degradation by fungi isolated from less contaminated and highly contaminated soil. Furthermore, type of nutrient medium also did not affect the degradation potential. Phylogenetic relationships were observed to have strong impact on PAH degradation. Fungal genera belonging to Sordariomycetes had greater potential to mineralize the contaminant. The fungal strains competent in the degradation of the hydrocarbon mixture as compared to the control was designated as Trichoderma tomentosum and F. oxysporum. The treatment of sewage sludge containing large quantities of PAHs and hazardous heavy metals using fungi is an attractive technique to enhance the fertility of soil. Studies have been conducted to evaluate the potential of P. chrysosporium, its cell free extract, and commercial laccase enzyme to treat biosolids (Taha et al., 2018). Efficacy was determined in the presence of low (1 mg/g) as well as high (10 mg/g) PAH contents. The introduction of P. chrysosporium, cell free extract, and laccase into contaminated biosolid displayed significant enhancement in degradation in comparison to the untreated control. The cell free extract was able to achieve a nearly 80% degradation of hydrocarbon. Moreover, treatment with fungi, its cellular extract, and laccase enzyme had no impact on the diversity of microorganisms (both bacteria and fungi) present in the biosolids indicating their suitability for complex soil systems. Thus, the bioaugmentation of PAH contaminated soil by fungi is a promising approach to treat contaminated sites. Large scale treatment and the addition of treated biosolids into agricultural fields would enhance soil fertility as well as crop productivity.

2.5 CONCLUSION Currently changing climatic conditions are a major threat to the normal functioning of life because of the rise in temperature and uneven rainfall throughout the world. The utilization of a huge amount of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to achieve maximum agricultural productivity is partly responsible for changes in climatic conditions. In this context, the use of microbes, like fungi or PGPR, as biofertilizer, biocontrol, and for abiotic stress management is a safe, economic, and ecofriendly method toward sustainable agriculture. Currently, it has been estimated that the use of

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microbial biofertilizer reduces dependency on chemical fertilizer by up to 20%. Various microbial species alone or in combined (co-inoculation) have been used as plant or soil inoculants to enhance agricultural productivity as well as to reduce the growth of phytopathogens. Many fungal species have also been used in abiotic stress management and the remediation of xenobiotic compounds or heavy metal concentration through biological means. Fungi secretes a large number of bioactive compounds that are directly or indirectly involved in biological control. Furthermore, there is also a need to explore the hidden possibilities or uses of fungi microbes that can help in the enhancement of agricultural productivity, nano-agriculture, or metabolite production.

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