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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Advantages of Endophyte Infection in Dry, Irrigated, Cold-Desert Environments

Author
item Waldron, Blair

Submitted to: International Symposium on Fungal Endophytes of Grasses
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 2007
Publication Date: March 25, 2007
Citation: Waldron, B.L. 2007. Advantages of Endophyte Infection in Dry, Irrigated, Cold-Desert Environments. In: Popay, Alison, Thom, Errol (eds). Proceedings 6th International Symposium on Fungal Endophytes of Grasses. p. 263-265.

Interpretive Summary: It has been well documented that fungal endophytes aid in the persistence and survival of symbiotic grasses in the humid, disease and insect-prone environments of the U.S. However, there has been little research to evaluate possible endophyte benefits to adaptation and production of grasses in the dry, irrigated, cold-desert environments of the western U.S. Severe irrigation shortages are common throughout the western U.S., however, production demands are increasing on private, irrigated pastures necessitating maximizing tall fescue's (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) productivity when grown in sub-optimal conditions including drought, salinity, and cold temperatures. In this paper, we summarize three studies that investigate the role of endophytes in the western U.S. Kentucky 31 tall fescue infected with wild-type endophyte consistently produced more forage than endophyte-free Kentucky 31 when grown under irrigation in the Intermountain Western U.S. The yield advantage was greatest (over 15%) when irrigation was severely limited to natural precipitation only. An evaluation of salinity tolerance showed little difference between entries infected with wild-type endophytes compared to their endophyte-free counterparts. Finally, a recent study revealed that tall fescue infected with a novel endophyte (Jesup MaxQ) was better able to recover from winter injury than Jesup E - when grown at a high-elevation cold-desert, irrigated environment. These studies suggest the need for additional research to elucidate the potential advantages of wild-type and novel endophytes for tall fescue production in semiarid, irrigated environments typical of the western U.S.

Technical Abstract: It has been well documented that fungal endophytes aid in the persistence and survival of symbiotic grasses in the humid, disease and insect-prone environments of the U.S. However, there has been little research to evaluate possible endophyte benefits to adaptation and production of grasses in the dry, irrigated, cold-desert environments of the western U.S. Severe irrigation shortages are common throughout the western U.S., however, production demands are increasing on private, irrigated pastures necessitating maximizing tall fescue's (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) productivity when grown in sub-optimal conditions including drought, salinity, and cold temperatures. In an earlier study, we reported that Kentucky 31 tall fescue infected with wild-type Neotyphodium consistently produced more forage than endophyte-free Kentucky 31 when grown under irrigation in the Intermountain Western U.S. The yield advantage was greatest (over 15%) when irrigation was severely limited to natural precipitation only. An evaluation of salinity tolerance showed a 3% higher trend in LD50 for Kentucky 31 infected with wild-type endophyte compared to its endophyte-free counterpart. In addition, a recent study revealed that Jesup MaxQ was better able to recover from winter injury than Jesup E - when grown at a high-elevation cold-desert, irrigated environment. These studies suggest the need for additional research to elucidate the potential advantages of wild-type and novel endophytes for tall fescue production in semiarid, irrigated environments typical of the western U.S.

Last Modified: 4/16/2014
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