Endophytic fungi, which live within host plant tissues without causing any visible symptom of disease, are important mediators of plant-herbivore interactions. These endophytes enhance resistance of host plant against insect herbivores mainly by productions of various alkaloid based defensive compounds in the plant tissue or through alterations of plant nutritional quality. Two endophytic fungi, i.e., Nigrospora sp. and Cladosporium sp., were isolated from Tinospora cordifolia (Thunb.) Miers, a traditional indian medicinal plant. Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea L.) plants were inoculated with these two endophytic fungi. The effect of endophyte infected and uninfected cauliflower plants were measured on the survival and development of Spodoptera litura (Fab.), a polyphagous pest. Endophyte infected cauliflower plants showed resistance to S. litura in the form of significant increase in larval and pupal mortality in both the fungi. Inhibitory effects of endophytic fungi also were observed on adult emergence, longevity, reproductive potential, as well as hatchability of eggs. Thus, it is concluded that antibiosis to S. litura could be imparted by artificial inoculation of endophytes and this could be used to develop alternative ecologically safe control strategies.
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Vol. 42 • No. 2