Molecular biology and evolution of the grass endophytes

Christopher L. Schardl, Huei‐Fung ‐F Tsai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Acremonium coenophialum Morgan‐Jones et W. Gams is a maternally transmitted fungal symbiont (endophyte) of the important forage grass Festuca arundinacea Schreb. (tall fescue), and provides biological protection and enhanced fitness to its host, but its anti‐mammalian ergot alkaloids detract from the usefulness of tall fescue as forage for livestock. Molecular genetic techniques and materials are being developed in order to specifically eliminate the gene(s) encoding the first enzyme in ergot alkaloid biosynthesis. These techniques will also facilitate basic studies, such as host‐fungus compatibility or biosynthesis of insecticidal alkaloids. Molecular phylogenetics indicate that endophytes related to A. coenophialum have evolved on multiple occasions from strains of Epichloë typhina (Ascomycotina, Clavicipitaceae), for which the sexual cycle is known. These studies also reveal significant diversity among seedborne endophytes in individual grass species. Thus, the endophytes are an important source of biochemical potential and genetic diversity in grass‐fungus symbiota. © 1992 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-184
Number of pages14
JournalNatural Toxins
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993


  • Acremonium coenophialum
  • Clavicipitaceae
  • Epichloë typhina
  • Festuca arundinacea
  • Hygromycin B phosphotransferase
  • Mating populations
  • Molecular phylogenetics, Ribosomal RNA genes
  • Transformation
  • β‐tubulin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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