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Book: Tall Fescue for the Twenty-first Century
Published by: American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America



  1.  p. 251-272
    Agronomy Monographs 53.
    Tall Fescue for the Twenty-first Century

    H.A. Fribourg, D.B. Hannaway and C.P. West (ed.)

    ISBN: 978-0-89118-185-9


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Tall Fescue–Endophyte Symbiosis

  1. Michael J. Christensen and
  2. Christine R. Voisey
  1. AgResearch, Grasslands Research Centre, Palmerston North, New Zealand



Tall fescue [Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) Darbysh.] and many other grasses belonging to the subfamily Pooideae form seemingly symptomless partnerships with endophytic fungi belonging to the genus Neotyphodium. We describe aspects of the delicately balanced relationship between the fungus and the host plant, including the location and structure of the intercellular hyphae in the apical meristem, leaves, and seeds. Also described is a new mechanism of endophyte colonization of plants, intercalary growth of hyphae. This mode of growth is an adaptation that enables the endophyte to colonize expanding host leaves, even though attached to plant cells, and explains how hyphae can extend as fast as leaves are growing. Hyphal branching and extension cease when leaf growth ceases, even though the hyphae have an ongoing supply of nutrients. The hyphae remain metabolically active, producing alkaloids that enhance the robustness and persistence of the host grass. Their close sexual relatives, the Epichloë, share these characteristics when colonizing vegetative host tissues, but unlike Neotyphodium species, which are solely vertically transmitted in the seed of host plants, may be either fully or occasionally horizontally transmitted via ascospores produced in stromata formed on reproductive tillers.

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Copyright © 2009. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, 5585 Guilford Road, Madison, WI 53711-5801, USA. Tall Fescue for the Twenty-first Century. H.A. Fribourg, D.B. Hannaway, and C.P. West (ed.)