More than one needle in a haystack — searching for Epichloe fungal endophytes in Canadian grasses

Citation

Liu M, Shoukouhi P, Chen W, Khanal R, Tremblay ÉD, Otfinowski R, Bakker MG (2023) More than one needle in a haystack — searching for Epichloe fungal endophytes in Canadian grasses. The Canadian Tri-Society meeting of the Canadian Phytopathological Society (CPS), the Canadian Society of Agronomy (CSA) and Canadian Society for Horticultural Science (CSHS), Ottawa, Canada, 18 – 21 Jun. 2023. Poster presentation

Résumé en langage clair

Fungi in the genus Epichloe live inside of cool-season grasses (Poaceae), the chemical compounds (alkaloids) produced by the fungus inside the grass can deter insects and are associated with drought resistance of host plants. With the aim to explore these promising natural resources for sustainable agriculture, we validated the presence of fungal endophytes in the seeds and stems of cultivated barley, wild barley, and selected grasses through a meta-barcoding approach. Among the 96 samples are 19 lines of cultivated barley and wild barley seeds obtained from the Plant Germplasm Resource Centre (PGRC, Saskatchewan), 16 lines from the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada barley breeding program, 15 wild barley specimens from the Canada National Collection of Vascular Plants (DAO), and miscellaneous grasses (potential hosts of Epichloe) collected from the Riding Mountain National Park (Manitoba) and Ottawa areas. Epichloe spp. were detected in 20 samples, including seeds or/and stems of Achnatherum richardsonii, Bromus sp., Elymus trachycaulus, Glyceria striata, Lolium arundinaceum, Hordeum bogdanii, and H. roshevitzii. In addition, we found species in Alternaria, Fusarium, Penicillium, and Cladosporium, etc. are common in the samples. However, the roles of these fungi, whether beneficial, pathogenic, or weak-pathogenic, in relation to their respective host plant need to be investigated.

Résumé

Fungi in the genus Epichloe (Fr.) Tul. & C. Tul. (Clavicipitaceae) have endophytic symbiotic relationships with cool-season grasses (Poaceae). The alkaloids produced by the fungus inside the grass can deter insects and are associated with drought resistance of host plants. These functions have been investigated for protecting grasses or cereal crops in many countries. In Canada, studies on Epichloe or other grass endophytes are lacking and vouchered germplasm is scarce. With the aim to explore these promising natural resources for sustainable agriculture, we validated the presence of fungal endophytes in the seeds and stems of cultivated barley, wild barley, and selected grasses through a meta-barcoding approach. Among the 96 samples are 19 lines of cultivated barley and wild barley seeds obtained from the Plant Germplasm Resource Centre (PGRC, Saskatchewan), 16 lines from the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada barley breeding program, 15 wild barley specimens from the Canada National Collection of Vascular Plants (DAO), and miscellaneous grasses (potential hosts of Epichloe) collected from the Riding Mountain National Park (Manitoba) and Ottawa areas. Epichloe spp. were detected in 20 samples, including seeds or/and stems of Achnatherum richardsonii (Link) Barkworth, Bromus sp., Elymus trachycaulus (Link) Gould ex Shinners, Glyceria striata (Lam.) Hitchc., Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) Darbysh, Hordeum bogdanii Wilensky, and H. roshevitzii Bowden. In addition, we found species in Alternaria, Fusarium, Penicillium, and Cladosporium, etc. are common in the samples. However, the roles of these fungi, whether beneficial, pathogenic, or weak-pathogenic, in relation to their respective host plant need to be investigated.

Date de publication

2023-06-20

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