Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/14/2000
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: The USDA, ARS through its nationwide network of seed and plant storage facilities is responsible for acquiring, preserving, re-generating, and distributing the raw genetic material necessary for sustaining US agricul- ture. Although this 'germplasm' in the public trust is usually in the form of living plant material, it can be in the form of fungi that live inside seeds and plants stored in USDA, ARS repositories. This fungi, called Neotyphodium endophytes, confers pest and drought tolerance to widely used forage and turf grass species such as tall fescue and perennial ryegrass. Unfortunately, tall fescue and perennial ryegrass with endophytes often produce chemicals that make them toxic to grazing livestock. Finding natural strains of Neotyphodium endophytes that do not produce livestock toxins, but which still confer resistance to insect pests, has been a goal of scientists for several years. This paper reports on the presence diverse Neotyphodium endophytes in tall fescue accessions collected in North Africa and Italy in 1994, and stored in the seedbank at the Western Regional Plant Introduction Station, Pullman, Washington. This report underscores the importance of acquiring new grass germplasm with new strains of Neotyphodium endophytes that may not produce livestock toxins, and which might be used by forage and turf grass improvement programs in the U.S. to create new grass-endophyte associations for improved resistance to pests and drought.
Technical Abstract: The application of Neotyphodium fungal endophytes of temperate grasses and their associated alkaloids in the development of new grass-endophyte combinations for enhanced tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress places a premium on having these endophytes available for grass improvement programs. This paper reports on Neotyphodium infection of tall fescue accessions collected in 1994 in Morocco, Tunisia, and Italy and stored at the USDA, ARS Western Regional Plant Introduction Station, Pullman, Washington. Three-hundred thirty-six of 439 plants contained viable Neotyphodium fungi. These plants were distributed among 104 accessions, of which 99 were endophyte-infected. Examination of the conidia of 41 representative isolates found that most had short conidia that are not characteristic of the tall fescue endophyte Neotyphodium coenophialum. Variation in conidial lengths was more pronounced among isolates from different tall fescue accessions than among isolates from infected plants of a single accession. This new and diverse Neotyphodium and tall fescue germplasm collection may be an important resource for turf and forage grass improvement programs.