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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 89 No. 5, p. 833-839
    Received: May 15, 1996

    * Corresponding author(s): josef.noesberger@ipw.agrl.ethz.ch
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Symbiosis with Neotyphodium uncinatum Endophyte May Increase the Competitive Ability of Meadow Fescue

  1. D. Malinowski,
  2. A. Leuchtmann,
  3. D. Schmidt and
  4. J. Nösberger 
  1. I nst. of Plant Sciences, Swiss Federal Inst. of Technology, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland
    G eobotanical Inst., Swiss Federal Inst. of Technology, CH-8008 Zurich, Switzerland
    A gric. Res. Stn. at Changins, CH-1260 Nyon, Switzerland



Infection with the endophyte Neotyphodium uncinatum (Gains, Petrini & Schmidt) Glenn, Bacon, Price & Hanlin may influence drought resistance and competitive ability of meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis Huds.). We determined endophyte-related effects on some growth and physiological characteristics in one clone of meadow fescue. In a growth chamber experiment, meadow fescue and orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) were planted in pots as monocultures or binary mixtures, competing in the root systems. One group of plants was adequately watered to maintain the original pot weight (control). The other group was subjected to a gradually imposed water stress, defined as soil water deficit, during 25 d (stressed plants). Afier rewatering, plants were allowed to regrow for 3 wk. Endophyte infection increased shoot and root dry weight by 33 and 70%, respectively, in control meadow fescue plants, and by 24 and 69% in stressed plants. Infected (E +) plants had significantly greater competitive ability than noninfected (E−) plants when grown in E−/E+ binary mixlure. In binary mixtures with orchardgrass, the competitive abilities of E− and E+ plants were reduced relative to that of E− and E+ plants grown as monocultures. In response to water stress, stomatal conductance was lower in E + than in E− plants, regardless of root competition. Noninfected plants could not completely recover in leaf water potential when exposed to root competition with infected plants or orchardgrass. The greater competitive ability of E+ plants was related to improved root and shoot growth and enhanced drought resistance. Infection with N. uncinatum could confer a competitive advantage to the meadow fescue done.

Research supported by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation.

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