Submitted to: Grass Breeders Work Planning Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/14/2002
Publication Date: 2/1/2004
Citation: Clement, S.L. 2004. Grass endophyte peregrinations at the western regional plant introduction station. In: Thirty-seventh Grass Breeders Work Planning Conference Proceedings, May 14-17, 2002, Pullman, Washington. p. 6-10.
Interpretive Summary: There is widespread interest in a group of fungi that infect forage and turf grasses because their presence is linked to increased plant fitness, such as greater drought tolerance and resistance to insect and mammalian herbivores. These fungi are called Neotyphodium fungal endophytes and infect grasses in the seed bank at the USDA, ARS Western Regional Plant Introduction Station in Pullman, Washington. This paper, presented at an annual meeting of U.S. grass breeders, reviews efforts to identify endophytes in grass collections and to pinpoint optimal storage temperatures to preserve viable endophytes in seed of tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, and wild barley. This review also implicates the presence of endophytes in grasses to increased resistance to insect pests. This review is noteworthy because it shows that Pullman grass collections are an important source of diverse endophytic fungi for grass breeding programs and basic research.
Technical Abstract: Neotyphodium fungal endophytes in temperate grasses have been linked with increased plant fitness, such as greater drought tolerance and resistance to insect and mammalian herbivores. These fungi in grass germplasm stored in the seed bank of the USDA, ARS Western Regional Plant Introduction Station (WRPIS) may be a valuable source of new and diverse genetic material for grass improvement programs and basic research. To better understand the value of these fungi for breeding programs, and to identify optimal conditions to retain viable fungal endophytes in WRPIS grass collections, research over the past 10 years has addressed the incidence of these fungi in grass collections, identified optimal storage temperatures to preserve endophyte viability in stored seed, and has established a firm link between insect resistance and the occurrence of endophytes in host grasses. To date, nine percent of the WRPIS grass collections have been examined for endophytes. Other research shows that WRPIS seed bank temperatures are suitable to preserve endophytes in seed, and that the expression of resistance to insects is influenced by the host plant species/genotype, the Neotyphodium strain, and the insect species involved in the interaction.