The Role of Endophytes in Conferring Salinity Tolerance in Prairie Cordgrass and the Winter Wheat Mint Variety

Jeffery Bartel, South Dakota State University


Prairie Cordgrass (PCG) Spartina pectinata is a native grass to North America that survives saline conditions, can be harvested multiple times in a year, and can be used as biofuel. Endophytes are bacteria that reside in plant tissues and often have growthpromoting capabilities. They can assist plants by obtaining nutrients by improving the tolerance of plants against a broad range of stresses, such as plant pathogens, viruses, flooding, drought, acids, or bases. PCG can survive ocean levels of salinity. Endophytes that naturally bond with PCG may not only be able to not only help PCG but be transferred to other plants and confer the same salt tolerance to others. Several PCG plants from salt sites were harvested, and several possible endophytes were then tested for their ability to survive in salt solutions. Sixteen of the most promising endophytes were tested in three short term greenhouse experiments to determine their viability. Unfortunately, none of the endophytes tested outperformed the controls by statistical analysis, but there are endophytes that performed similarly to the controls in some metrics of the experiments. R3B Agrobacterium tumefaciens, L4A1 Bacillus haynesii, R4B1 Bacillus cereus, and R5A1 Bacillus pumilus were some of the best and the most valuable for others to test in future experiments.