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Crop Science Abstract - FORAGE & GRAZING LANDS

Performance of Tall Fescue Germplasms Bred for High- and Low-Ergot Alkaloids


This article in CS

  1. Vol. 42 No. 2, p. 518-523
    Received: Jan 4, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): nhill@uga.edu
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  1. N. S. Hill *a,
  2. J. H. Boutona,
  3. F. N. Thompsonb,
  4. L. Hawkinsb,
  5. C. S. Hovelanda and
  6. M. A. McCannc
  1. a Dep. of Crop and Soil Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
    b College of Veterinary Medicine, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602
    c Dep. of Animal and Dairy Sciences, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602


Field studies were conducted to examine yield, alkaloid stability, stand survival, and animal toxicity in tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Shreb.) germplasms, infected with their endemic endophyte [Neotyphodium coenophialum (Morgan-Jones and Gams) Glenn, Bacon, and Hanlin] and bred for high- or low-alkaloid concentration. Three germplasms selected from endophyte-infected (E+) ‘Jesup’ for low-alkaloid and two germplasms selected for high-alkaloid, along with E+ and endophyte-free (E−) Jesup, E+ and E− ‘Kentucky-31’, and E− ‘AU Triumph’ tall fescue were planted at a mountain and a piedmont location in Georgia, and the forage harvested for 3 yr. Yield was calculated and alkaloid concentration was measured. In separate experiments, stand survival of one high- and one low-alkaloid germplasm was assessed in bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] sod by grazing with beef cattle. Toxicity was assessed on one low-alkaloid germplasm in lamb performance trials. Yields of the low- and high-alkaloid germplasms were similar to the E+ Jesup cultivar. The low- and high-alkaloid germplasms remained low and high in alkaloids, respectively. The E+ check and the germplasms bred for both high- and low-ergot alkaloid concentration were found to have superior stand survival compared with the E− check, but the low-alkaloid germplasm had lower stand survival than the E+ check. Lambs grazing the low-alkaloid germplasm showed weight gain ranking between those on E+ and E− pasture. This study indicates that persistence and alkaloid concentration were stable over environments; however, animal toxicity and the stand reduction exhibited by the low-alkaloid producing germplasm raises when grazed questions about breeding for reduced alkaloid concentration.

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Copyright © 2002. Crop Science Society of AmericaPublished in Crop Sci.42:518–523.