Forages and pastures symposium: Fungal endophytes of tall fescue and perennial ryegrass: Pasture friend or foe?

C. A. Young, D. E. Hume, R. L. Mcculley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Tall fescue [Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) Darbysh. syn. Festuca arundinacea Schreb.] and perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) are important perennial forage grasses utilized throughout the moderate- to high-rainfall temperate zones of the world. These grasses have coevolved with symbiotic fungal endophytes (Epichloë/Neotyphodium spp.) that can impart bioactive properties and environmental stress tolerance to the grass compared with endophyte-free individuals. These endophytes have proven to be very important in pastoral agriculture in the United States, New Zealand, and Australia, where forage grasses are the principal feed for grazing ruminants. In this review, we describe the biology of these grass-endophyte associations and implications for the livestock industries that are dependent on these forages. Endophyte alkaloid production is put in context with endophyte diversity, and we illustrate how this has facilitated utilization of grasses infected with different endophyte strains that reduce livestock toxicity issues. Utilization of tall fescue and use of perennial ryegrass in the United States, New Zealand, and Australia are compared, and management strategies focused predominantly on the success of endophyte-infected perennial ryegrass in New Zealand and Australia are discussed. In addition, we consider the impact of grass-endophyte associations on the sustainability of pasture ecosystems and their likely response to future changes in climate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2379-2394
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Alkaloids
  • Animal production
  • Endophyte
  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Tall fescue
  • Toxicosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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