A Beneficial Plant-Associated Fungus Shifts the Balance toward Plant Growth over Resistance, Increasing Cucumber Tolerance to Root Herbivory. Academic Article uri icon


  • Plants allocate their limited resources toward different physiological processes, dynamically adjusting their resource allocation in response to environmental changes. How beneficial plant-associated microbes influence this allocation is a topic that continues to interest plant biologists. In this study, we examined the effect of a beneficial fungus, Phialemonium inflatum, on investment in growth and anti-herbivore resistance traits in cucumber plants (Cucumis sativus). We inoculated cucumber seeds with P. inflatum spores and measured several growth parameters, including germination rate, above and belowground biomass, and number of flowers. We also examined plant resistance to adult and larval striped cucumber beetles (Acalymma vitattum), and quantified levels of defense hormones in leaves and roots. Our results indicate that P. inflatum strongly enhances cucumber plant growth and reproductive potential. Although fungus treatment did not improve plant resistance to cucumber beetles, inoculated plants were more tolerant to root herbivory, experiencing less biomass reduction. Together, these findings document how a beneficial plant-associated fungus shifts plant investment in growth over herbivore resistance, highlighting the importance of microbes in mediating plant-herbivore interactions. These findings also have important implications for agricultural systems, where beneficial microbes are often introduced or managed to promote plant growth or enhance resistance.

published proceedings

  • Plants (Basel)

author list (cited authors)

  • Rivera-Vega, L. J., Grunseich, J. M., Aguirre, N. M., Valencia, C. U., Sword, G. A., & Helms, A. M.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Rivera-Vega, Loren J||Grunseich, John M||Aguirre, Natalie M||Valencia, Cesar U||Sword, Gregory A||Helms, Anjel M

publication date

  • January 2022


published in