Transcriptomics of epichloë-grass symbioses in host vegetative and reproductive stages

Padmaja Nagabhyru, Randy D. Dinkins, Christopher L. Schardl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Epichloë species are fungal symbionts (endophytes) of cool-season grasses that transmit vertically via inflorescence primordia (IP), ovaries (OV), and ultimately, embryos. Epichloë coenophiala, an endophyte of tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus), provides multiple protective benefits to the grass. We conducted transcriptome analysis of the tall fescue–E. coenophiala symbiosis, comparing IP, OV, vegetative pseudostems (PS), and the lemma and palea (LP) (bracts) of the young floret. Transcriptomes of host OV and PS exhibited almost no significant differences attributable to endophyte presence or absence. Comparison of endophyte gene expression in different plant parts revealed numerous differentially expressed genes (DEGs). The 150 endophyte DEGs significantly higher in PS over OV included genes for alkaloid biosynthesis and sugar or amino acid transport. The 277 endophyte DEGs significantly higher in OV over PS included genes for protein chaperones (including most heat-shock proteins), trehalose synthesis complex, a bax inhibitor-1 protein homolog, the CLC chloride ion channel, catalase, and superoxide dismutase. Similar trends were apparent in the Brachypodium sylvaticum–Epichloë sylvatica symbiosis. Gene expression profiles in tall fescue IP and LP indicated that the endophyte transcriptome shift began early in host floral development. We discuss possible roles of the endophyte DEGs in colonization of reproductive grass tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-207
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Plant-Microbe Interactions
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Phytopathological Society. All Rights Reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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