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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Plant Germplasm Introduction and Testing Research

Title: Anti-Insect Properties of Grass Fungal Endophytes for Plant Resistance to Insects)

item Clement, Stephen

Submitted to: International Plant Resistance to Insects Workshop Abstracts & Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/26/2010
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: n/a

Technical Abstract: Many temperate grass species host Epichloë and Neotyphodium endophytic fungi that produce alkaloids with anti-mammalian and anti-insect properties. Ergot and lolitrem alkaloid production by endophyte-infected (E+) grasses can have deleterious effects on grazing livestock, whereas insecticidal alkaloids (peramine, lolines) in E+ grasses have not been linked to mammalian toxicity. Fortunately for the development of insect-resistant E+ grasses, diverse endophyte strains exist in nature and seed banks that produce only insecticidal alkaloids for host plant resistance and other ecological benefits. This talk reviews the growing deployment of ‘non-mammalian toxic Neotyphodium strains’ in forage grass cultivars for resistance to a broad spectrum of insects. One noteworthy example is the commercial development of MaxP tall fescue with a non-toxic endophyte from the USDA-ARS seed bank at Pullman, Washington to protect pastures in Australia and New Zealand from attack by root aphid (Aploneura lentisci), African black beetle (Heteronychus arator), and other serious pests. Additionally, a new venture aims to capitalize upon the discovery of Neotyphodium fungi in the wild relatives of barley and wheat to develop an endophyte-based method to protect cereal crops from biotic and abiotic stresses. With this new development, this also summarizes published and unpublished evidence that globally important cereal pests (Russian wheat aphid, Diuraphis noxia; Bird cherry-oat aphid, Rhopalosiphum padi; rose grass aphid, Metopolophium dirhodum; Hessian fly, Mayetiola destructor; Cereal leaf beetle, Oulema melanopus) are, indeed, adversely affected by alkaloid-producing E+ grasses. This information will expand our knowledge of the anti-insect properties of endophyte strains in diverse grasses, thereby improving the deployment of different endophyte strains and metabolites to protect forage and cereal grass cultivars from important pests.

Last Modified: 05/23/2017
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