Ergovaline Variability in Acremonium-Infected Tall Fescue Due to Environment and Plant Genotype
Competitiveness and persistence of tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) is superior when infected with the endophyte, Acremonium coenophialum Morgan-Jones & Gams. Acremonium-derived ergopeptine alkaloids impair animal productivity, and if reduced or eliminated would improve animal performance. This study was conducted to determine: (i) environmental influence on ergovaline concentration in A. coenophialum-infected tall fescue genotypes, and (ii) the extent that plant genotype influences ergovaline production by the endophyte. A field experiment evaluated five endophyte-infected tall fescue genotypes grown at three locations (environments) during 2 yr. Plant genotypes, harvested every 28 d, differed in ergovaline concentration (P < 0.05) during spring months. Rank correlations of genotypes were high among harvest dates, locations, and years. A greenhouse experiment was used to evaluate ergovaline concentration among progeny from a reciprocal cross between a high- and a low-ergovaline tall fescue genotype. Parents differed in ergovaline concentration by 630 μg kg−1 but produced similar F1 progeny means that were not different from the midparent (415 μg kg−1). Both F1 populations had similar ranges for ergovaline (122-938 μg kg−1). Although subject to environmental influence, ergovaline production by tall fescue—Acremonium associations was partially dependent upon plant genotype.
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