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Summary

Dark septate endophytes (DSE) are very common root colonizers of woody plant species. Ascomycetes of the Phialocephala fortinii s.l.–Acephala applanata species complex (PAC) are the main representatives of DSE fungi in forest ecosystems. PAC and mycorrhizal fungi share the same habitat, but interactions among PAC, mycorrhizal fungi and plants are poorly understood. We compared the effects of single and dual inoculation of Norway spruce seedlings with PAC and the ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungus Hebeloma crustuliniforme on host growth, degree of mycorrhization and density of endophytic PAC biomass. Single colonization by H. crustuliniforme or PAC significantly reduced plant biomass. Dual colonization reduced or neutralized plant growth depression caused by single fungal colonization. The degree of mycorrhization was independent on PAC colonization, and mycorrhization significantly reduced endophytic PAC biomass. Plant biomass of dually colonized plants positively correlated with PAC biomass. These results demonstrate the ability of dual inoculation of PAC and H. crustuliniforme to neutralize plant growth depression caused by single fungal inoculation. Our explanations of enhanced plant growth in dually inoculated plants are the inhibition of PAC during root colonization by the ECM mantle and ECM-mediated access to plant growth-promoting nutrients resulting from the mineralization of the potting medium by PAC.