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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: April 2019

Part V - Application and Commercialisation of Endophytes in Crop Production

Summary

In some environments, the survival and production of ryegrass and fescue is heavily reliant on its mutualistic association with Epichloë endophytes. Epichloë endophytes produce a range of bioactive alkaloids, or secondary metabolites that can be effective in deterring insect pests, although some have also been shown to be toxic to grazing animals. These endophytes are being used in grassland farming systems in Australia, New Zealand, USA and some parts of South America. However, to achieve this outcome there has been considerable investment into developing a research pipeline for delivery of animal-safe endophyte strains that are still capable of deterring insect pests and providing protection against abiotic stresses. The pipeline starts with the discovery and isolation of endophytes from wild populations of ryegrass and fescue, characterisation of the known alkaloids they produce, use of genetic markers to determine the relationship between known well-characterised strains and new strains entering the collection, determination of their bioactivity against insect pests of economic significance, understanding issues of compatibility of a strain of interest with the elite germplasm into which it has been inoculated, determining ease of transmission to subsequent seed generations, and ensuring there will be no or minimal animal health and welfare issues associated with using the strain in grazing systems.