• Anti-quality factors associated with alkaloids in eastern temperate pasture

      Thompson, F. N.; Stuedemann, J. A.; Hill, N. S. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      The greatest anti-quality associated with eastern temperature pasture grasses is the result of ergot alkaloids found in endophyte-infected (Neotyphodium ceonophialum) tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) The relationship between the grass and the endophyte is mutualistic with greater persistence and herbage mass as a result of the endophyte. Ergot alkaloids reduce growth rate, lactation, and reproduction in livestock. Significant effects are the result of elevated body temperature and reduced peripheral blood flow such that necrosis may result. Perturbations also occur in a variety of body systems. Planting new pastures with seed containing a "non-toxic" endophyte appears to be a potential solution. Ergotism results from the ingestion of the scelerotia of Claviceps purpurea containing ergot alkaloids found on seed heads. Ergotism resembles the effects of endophyte-infected tall fescue. Endophyte-infected perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) contains ergot and lotirem alkaloids that result in reduced growth and tremors. Reed canarygrass (Phalaris Anundinacba L.) contains tryptamine, hordenine and gramine alkaloids that reduce growth. Annual ryegrass (Lolium multiplorum L. may contain galls with cornetoxins which result in neurological signs.
    • Endophytic fungi in Canada wild rye in natural grasslands

      Vinton, M. A.; Kathol, E. S.; Vogel, K. P.; Hopkins, A. A. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Some grasses harbor endophytic fungi living in intercellular spaces in the leaves, stems and reproductive organs. The fungi can dramatically affect the physiology and ecology of plants. For example, fungi may produce toxins that deter herbivores and they may alter the water status of the plant to increase drought tolerance. The distribution of fungal infection in natural plant populations is unknown for many host species. We investigated the occurrence of endophytic fungi in Elymus canadensis L. (Canada wild rye) from 13 remnant prairie sites in the midwest and 23 sites in the southern Great Plains. Collections of plant tissue came from Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Texas. All midwest plants were grown in a common garden site in eastern Nebraska. Seeds collected from Oklahoma and Texas accessions were planted in the greenhouse. At least 3 tillers from 2 plants of each accession were screened for endophytes, using light microscopy. The endophytic fungus was found in seed of all accessions and in plants from all but 4 accessions. The functional significance of the fungus is unclear, but it may affect plants by enhancing productivity or deterring herbivores. The widespread occurrence of endophytic fungi in natural populations of E. canadensis suggests that the plant-fungal association may be long-standing and important in the evolution and success of this native prairie species.