Mycorrhizal fungi as bioprotectors of crops against Verticillium wilt-a hypothetical scenario under changing environmental conditions
The association that many crops can establish with the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) present in soils can enhance the resistance of the host plants against several pathogens, including Verticillium spp. The increased resistance of mycorrhizal plants is mainly due to the improved nutritional and water status of crops and to enhanced antioxidant metabolism and/or increased production of secondary metabolites in the plant tissues. However, the effectiveness of AMF in protecting their host plants against Verticillium spp. may vary depending on the environmental factors. Some environmental factors, such as the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the availability of soil water and the air and soil temperatures, are predicted to change drastically by the end of the century. The present paper discusses to what extent the climate change may influence the role of AMF in protecting crops against Verticillium-induced wilt, taking into account the current knowledge about the direct and indirect effects that the changing environment can exert on AMF communities in soils and on the symbiosis between crops and AMF, as well as on the development, incidence and impact of diseases caused by soil-borne pathogens.