Fungal and host genotype effects on compatibility and vascular colonization by Epichloe festucae

M. J. Christensen, O. J.P. Ball, R. J. Bennett, C. L. Schardl

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56 Scopus citations


Parental and progeny isolates of the endophytic fungus Epichloe festucae were tested for compatibility with five grass species: Lolium perenne, Festuca arundinacae, F. longifolia, F. pratensis, and F. rubra subsp. rubra. One parental and some progeny isolates adversely affected the growth of plants, causing increased mortality of inoculated seedlings, stunted growth and chlorotic leaf symptoms. Growth of hyphae from surface-sterilized leaf sheaths and blades was more vigorous and concentrated from stunted than from symptomless plants. In addition, the growth of isolates was influenced by the host species, whereby estimates of hyphal concentration were consistently highest in meadow rescue associations and lowest in tall rescue associations. Light microscopic and transmission electron microscopic examination of stunted plants indicated no changes in host cells. Intercellular hyphae were observed within vascular bundles of leaf blades and sheaths of many of the endophyte-grass associations. The frequency of infected vascular bundles and the concentration of hyphae within them was highest in plants infected with the stunting parental isolate and lowest in plants infected, with the symptomless parental isolate. Hyphae within vascular bundles were typically in dose contact with steve-tube elements and appeared to be functioning as powerful sinks, diverting assimilates end restricting growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-501
Number of pages9
JournalMycological Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge the support and encouragement of members of the endophyte research programme and of the Plant Protection Group of AgResearch Grasslands, Palmerston North, New Zealand, A. D. Byrd for assisting with producing the E. festucae progeny, Mrs Christine Saunders for help with statistical analysis, and Drs David Hume, Garry Latch and Syd Easton for reviewing the manuscript. This research was funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology and National Science Foundation grant DEB-9408018 to C. L. S.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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