Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Genotypic and chemotypic diversity of neotyphodium endophytes in tall fescue from Greece.

Abstract

Epichloid endophytes provide protection from a variety of biotic and abiotic stresses for cool-season grasses, including tall fescue. A collection of 85 tall fescue lines from 15 locations in Greece, including both Continental and Mediterranean germplasm, was screened for the presence of native endophytes. A total of 37 endophyte-infected lines from 10 locations were identified, and the endophytes were classified into five distinct groups (G1 to G5) based on physical characteristics such as colony morphology, growth rate, and conidial morphology. These classifications were supported by phylogenetic analyses of housekeeping genes tefA and tubB, and the endophytes were further categorized as Neotyphodium coenophialum isolates (G1, G4, and G5) or Neotyphodium sp. FaTG-2 (Festuca arundinacea taxonomic group 2 isolates (G2 and G3)). Analyses of the tall fescue matK chloroplast genes indicated a population-wide, host-specific association between N. coenophialum and Continental tall fescue and between FaTG-2 and Mediterranean tall fescue that was also reflected by differences in colonization of host tillers by the native endophytes. Genotypic analyses of alkaloid gene loci combined with chemotypic (chemical phenotype) profiles provided insight into the genetic basis of chemotype diversity. Variation in alkaloid gene content, specifically the presence and absence of genes, and copy number of gene clusters explained the alkaloid diversity observed in the endophyte-infected tall fescue, with one exception. The results from this study provide insight into endophyte germplasm diversity present in living tall fescue populations.