Globally, substantial research into endophytic microbes is being conducted to increase agricultural and environmental sustainability. Endophytic microbes such as bacteria, actinomycetes, and fungi inhabit ubiquitously within the tissues of all plant species without causing any harm or disease. Endophytes form symbiotic relationships with diverse plant species and can regulate numerous host functions, including resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses, growth and development, and stimulating immune systems. Moreover, plant endophytes play a dominant role in nutrient cycling, biodegradation, and bioremediation, and are widely used in many industries. Endophytes have a stronger predisposition for enhancing mineral and metal solubility by cells through the secretion of organic acids with low molecular weight and metal-specific ligands (such as siderophores) that alter soil pH and boost binding activity. Finally, endophytes synthesize various bioactive compounds with high competence that are promising candidates for new drugs, antibiotics, and medicines. Bioprospecting of endophytic novel secondary metabolites has given momentum to sustainable agriculture for combating environmental stresses. Biotechnological interventions with the aid of endophytes played a pivotal role in crop improvement to mitigate biotic and abiotic stress conditions like drought, salinity, xenobiotic compounds, and heavy metals. Identification of putative genes from endophytes conferring resistance and tolerance to crop diseases, apart from those involved in the accumulation and degradation of contaminants, could open new avenues in agricultural research and development. Furthermore, a detailed molecular and biochemical understanding of endophyte entry and colonization strategy in the host would better help in manipulating crop productivity under changing climatic conditions. Therefore, the present review highlights current research trends based on the SCOPUS database, potential biotechnological interventions of endophytic microorganisms in combating environmental stresses influencing crop productivity, future opportunities of endophytes in improving plant stress tolerance, and their contribution to sustainable remediation of hazardous environmental contaminants. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].
- Bioactive secondary metabolites
- Biotic and abiotic stress
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Soil Science