An Overview of Neotyphodium-Grass Interactions

  • G. C. M. Latch


Epichloe typhina is an endophytic fungus which causes a disease of grasses known as “choke”. In many grasses infected with this fungus the mycelium remains hidden intercellularly in the plant until flowering. Mycelium then emerges and forms a weft around the developing inflorescence preventing its development and hence no seed is produced. Some grasses such as tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) and perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) are infected with endophytes which are related to E. typhina but have no sexual reproductive stage. The systemic mycelium of these Neotyphodium species of fungi never emerges from within the plant and these endophytes are propagated by means of seed transmission of mycelium. These latter fungi were regarded as curiosities and little notice was taken of them until their significance in agriculture was revealed two decades ago. Since then, the interactions they have with their host grasses have been studied in order to understand the remarkable relationship between the endophyte and host. With this understanding has come the realization that host and endophyte are in a mutualistic relationship. The grass provides the fungus with nutrients, shelter and a means of propagation through seed while the endophyte provides mechanisms for enhancing its host’s survival. No doubt there are many interactions in this mutualism still to be discovered but those we are presently aware of are dealt with in this overview.


Endophytic Fungus Tall Fescue Perennial Ryegrass Fungal Endophyte Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. C. M. Latch
    • 1
  1. 1.AgResearchPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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