Fungal endophyte presence and genotype affect plant diversity and soil-to-atmosphere trace gas fluxes

Javed Iqbal, Jim A. Nelson, Rebecca L. McCulley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Aims: Novel fungal endophyte (Neotyphodium coenophialum; Latch, Christensen and Samuels; Glenn, Bacon, and Hanlin) genotypes in symbiosis with tall fescue (Lolium arundinaceum; Schreb. Darbysh.) have been recently introduced to agricultural seed markets. These novel endophytes do not produce the full suite of toxins that the 'common toxic' form does, and therefore, may not have the same consequences on plant and soil processes. Here, we evaluated the effects of endophyte presence and genotype on ecosystem processes of tall fescue stands. Methods: We quantified the effects of the presence of the common toxic endophyte (CT), two novel endophyte genotypes (AR-542, AR-584), no endophyte (endophyte free, E-), and a mixture of all endophyte statuses (mix) within a single genotype of tall fescue (PDF) on various soil and plant parameters. Results: Endophyte presence and genotype affected tall fescue cover and plant species diversity: cover-CT, AR-542, AR -584, mix > E- and species diversity-E- > AR-542, AR -584 > CT, mix. Most measured soil parameters had significant endophyte effects. For example, higher fluxes of soil CO2 and N2O were measured from stands of AR-542 than from the other endophyte treatments. Conclusions: These results indicate that endophyte presence and genetic identity are important in understanding the ecosystem-scale effects of this agronomically important grass-fungal symbiosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-27
Number of pages13
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments We thank Andy Hopkins, Carolyn Young, and the Noble Foundation for providing the tall fescue-fungal genotype seed and in helping to confirm the endophyte status of our plots. Thanks to Elizabeth Carlisle for her assistance in the field sampling and laboratory analysis. We also appreciate the help of R. Smith, A. Cooke, and L. Box for identifying and sorting plant species in the field. Funding for this project was provided via a cooperative agreement between the College of Agriculture at the University of Kentucky and the USDA-ARS Forage Animal Production Research Unit (58-6440-7-135) and the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station (KY006045).


  • Neotyphodium
  • Novel endophyte genotypes
  • Plant diversity
  • Soil trace gases
  • Tall fescue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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