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Allochthonous Trichoderma Isolates Boost Atractylodes lancea Herb Quality at the Cost of Rhizome Growth.

Atractylodes lancea is a perennial herb whose rhizome (AR) is a valuable traditional Chinese medicine with immense market demand. The cultivation of Atractylodes lancea faces outbreaks of root rot and deterioration in herb quality due to complex causes. Here, we investigated the effects of Trichoderma spp., well-known biocontrol agents and plant-growth-promoters, on ARs. We isolated Trichoderma strains from healthy ARs collected in different habitats and selected three T . harzianum strains (Th2, Th3 and Th4) with the strongest antagonizing effects on root rot pathogens ( Fusarium spp.). We inoculated geo-authentic A . lancea plantlets with Th2, Th3 and Th4 and measured the biomass and quality of 70-day-old ARs. Th2 and Th3 promoted root rot resistance of A . lancea . Th2, Th3 and Th4 all boosted AR quality: the concentration of the four major medicinal compounds in ARs (atractylon, atractylodin, hinesol and β-eudesmol) each increased 1.6- to 18.2-fold. Meanwhile, however, the yield of ARs decreased by 0.58- to 0.27-fold. Overall, Th3 dramatically increased the quality of ARs at a relatively low cost, namely lower yield, showing great potential for practical application. Our results showed selectivity between A. lancea and allochthonous Trichoderma isolates, indicating the importance of selecting specific microbial patches for herb cultivation.

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