Journal of Undergraduate Research


endophyte interactions, water stress, disease, succulent crops, Agave, Yucca


Life Sciences


Plant and Wildlife Sciences


Agave and Yucca species are both cultural and economically important in the south western United States and Mexico. As desert plants, Agave and Yucca have adapted to hot and dry conditions and with increasing global temperatures, have the potential to fill even more important roles in modern agriculture1. The Navajo people place immense value on Yucca due to its source for food, twine, hair cleanser as well and its role in religious ceremonies. Agave has long been valued as a crop in Mexico and is used for food, fiber and beverages. Fusarium oxysporum is a major plant disease and causes vascular wilt in Agave2. Climate changes and disease have reduced Agave production in Mexico for the past few decades3. Adaptive traits of Agave and Yucca have allowed them to thrive in desert communities; microbial communities of plants have been shown to play an important role for adaptive traits in desert plants. Plant microbiomes play an important role in protecting plant from certain diseases and other threats4. Endophytes are microbial organisms that live inside of plants without causing disease and in many in cases bestow fitness enhancing characteristics on their hosts5. Previous studies have shown that inoculation of endophytes from related species can enhance disease resistance5. This study intends to show a transfer of disease resistance from Yucca to Agave using endophytes. Endophytes have also been shown to increase drought tolerance as well, however, due to sample availability we forwent that aspect of the study.