, Volume 80, Issue 3, pp 374–380 | Cite as

Impact of the fungus Balansia henningsiana on Panicum agrostoides: frequency of infection, plant growth and reproduction, and resistance to pests

  • Keith Clay
  • Gregory P. Cheplick
  • Susan Marks
Original Papers


The impact of the systemic fungus Balansia henningsiana (Clavicipitaceae) on the grass Panicum agrostoides was examined in field and greenhouse studies comparing infected and uninfected plants. Approximately one-half of all plants in three populations located in southern Indiana were infected. In field samples and greenhouse studies infected plants were significantly heavier than uninfected plants and produced significantly more tillers. Infection tended to suppress flowering but occasional asymptomatic tillers on infected plants produced healthy inflorescences. Although infected plants produced fewer inflorescences than uninfected plants as a proportion of total tillers, absolute numbers of inflorescences were similar in the two groups. Because other grasses infected by different species of Balansia and related fungi often are more resistant to insect damage, pest damage was quantified in one population. No differences between infected and uninfected plants were detected in levels of herbivory but infected plants had significantly less damage by the common leaf spot fungus Alternaria triticina. The results suggest that there is no selective disadvantage for plants infected by B. henningsiana.

Key words

Panicum agrostoides Balansia henningsiana Fungal endophyte Growth Herbivory 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith Clay
    • 1
  • Gregory P. Cheplick
    • 1
  • Susan Marks
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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