Deployment of Novel Endophytes in the Tall Fescue Commercial Seed Trade
The novel endophyte [Neotyphodium coenophialum (Morgan-Jones and Gams) Glenn, Bacon, and Hanlin] strain first commercialized in ‘Jesup’ tall fescue [Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) Darbysh.] was MaxQ (a trademark of Grasslanz Technology Ltd., Palmerston North, New Zealand), also known as MaxP in Australia and New Zealand was commercialized in the United States by Pennington Seed Co., Madison, GA in the Jesup cultivar after extensive research by the University of Georgia in collaboration with AgResearch. Its development was based on the strategy of overcoming tall fescue toxicosis via the isolation of naturally occurring, nontoxic novel endophyte strains and reinfecting these strains into elite cultivars. In this strategy, the main traits of the current cultivar remain intact, but animal toxicities are eliminated. This strategy requires that the best endophyte strain–cultivar combination be successful. However, not all infections at the cultivar level were successful for seed transmission and/or agronomic performance, requiring much testing to identify the best combination(s). The increased price of cultivars with novel endophytes compared to conventional (endophyte free or containing toxic endophyte strains) tall fescue seed, two- to threefold higher, means that the farmer needs a guarantee that viable novel endophytes are being purchased, seeded, and established. Maintaining endophyte viability during breeding and development, seed production, marketing, and on-farm establishment phases therefore is important because endophytes die faster in the seed than the embryo itself. For a company to ensure high viability and infection rates, quality control approaches are necessary during all of these phases. Quality control measures include devising and upgrading screening methods to assess amount and type of infection, conducting the requisite agronomic and animal testing before actual release of new cultivars, and maintaining endophyte viability during seed increase, conditioning, and dissemination throughout the wholesale and retail pathways. Novel endophytes are a patented technology; therefore, the current commodity approach of the tall fescue seed industry of growing and selling seed will need to be adjusted to account for intellectual property protection of the novel endophytes. The reinfection approach with novel endophytes probably will continue for the near future as several new cultivar–strain combinations enter the marketplace.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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.)