The determinant step in ergot alkaloid biosynthesis by an endophyte of perennial ryegrass

Jinghong Wang, Caroline Machado, Daniel G. Panaccione, Huei Fung Tsai, Christopher L. Schardl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Many cool-season grasses harbor fungal endophytes in the genus Neotyphodium, which enhance host fitness, but some also produce metabolites - such as ergovaline - believed to cause livestock toxicoses. In Claviceps species the first step in ergot alkaloid biosynthesis is thought to be dimethylallyltryptophan (DMAT) synthase, encoded by dmaW, previously cloned from Claviceps fusiformis. Here we report the cloning and characterization of dmaW from Neotyphodium sp. isolate Lp1, an endophyte of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne). The gene was then disrupted, and the mutant failed to produce any detectable ergovaline or simpler ergot and clavine alkaloids. The disruption was complemented with the C. fusiformis gene, which restored ergovaline production. Thus, the biosynthetic role of DMAT synthase was confirmed, and a mutant was generated for future studies of the ecological and agricultural importance of ergot alkaloids in endophytes of grasses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-198
Number of pages10
JournalFungal Genetics and Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Alfred D. Byrd and Walter Hollin for technical assistance. Alkaloid analyses were conducted during a visit by D.G.P. to AgResearch Grasslands, Palmerston North, New Zealand, in collaboration with Brian Tapper, Geoff Lane, Elizabeth Davies, and Karl Fraser. Authentic standards of ergot alkaloids were provided by Forrest Smith (Auburn University) and Miroslav Flieger (Czech Academy of Science). This work was supported by Grant 2001-35319-10930 from the United States Department of Agriculture National Research Initiative. This is publication No. 03-12-113 of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station, published with approval of the director.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Genetics


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