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This article in CS

  1. Vol. 40 No. 4, p. 923-940
    Received: Oct 26, 1999

    * Corresponding author(s): d-malinowski@tamu.edu
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Adaptations of Endophyte-Infected Cool-Season Grasses to Environmental Stresses: Mechanisms of Drought and Mineral Stress Tolerance

  1. Dariusz P. Malinowski *a and
  2. David P. Beleskyb
  1. a Texas A&M Univ., Texas Agric. Exp. Stn., P.O.B. 1658, Vernon, TX 76385 USA
    b USDA-ARS, Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center, 1224 Airport Rd., Beaver, WV 25813 USA


Cool-season grasses infected with Neotyphodium spp. endophytes have an extraordinary impact on the ecology and economy of pasture and turf. A range of adaptations of endophyte-infected grasses to biotic and abiotic stresses has been identified but mechanisms of these adaptations are not clearly understood. In this review, we present recent research progress on endophyte-related mechanisms affecting abiotic (drought, mineral) and selected aspects of biotic stress tolerance in cool-season grasses. Endophytes induce mechanisms of drought avoidance (morphological adaptations), drought tolerance (physiological and biochemical adaptations), and drought recovery in infected grasses. Mineral nutrition (nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium) affects production of ergot alkaloids, thus understanding mechanisms involved in mineral economy of endophyte-infected grasses will help in developing management practices to reduce forage toxicity to livestock. Previous research resolved the role of endophyte in nitrogen (N) economy of tall fescue. We identified two endophyte-related mechanisms in tall fescue operating in response to phosphorus (P) deficiency. The mechanisms are altered root morphology (reduced root diameters and longer root hairs) and chemical modification of the rhizosphere resulting from exudation of phenolic-like compounds. These mechanisms were shown to benefit endophyte-infected plants grown under P deficiency. We also report a mechanism of aluminum (Al) sequestration on root surfaces in endophyte-infected tall fescue, which appears to be related to exudation of phenolic-like compounds with Al-chelating activity. Understanding mechanisms of abiotic stress tolerance in endophyte-infected grasses is essential for continued improvement and persistence of grasses for a range of applications, e.g., forage for semi-arid areas or cover plants for soil renovation.

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