Effects of hybrid and non-hybrid Epichloë endophytes and their associated host genotypes on the response of a native grass to varying environments

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Stanley H. Faeth, Professor Emeritus (Creator)
Tatsiana Shymanovich, Postdoctoral Fellow (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Asexual Epichloë endophytes are prevalent in cool season grasses, and many are of hybrid origin. Hybridization of asexual endophytes is thought to provide a rapid influx of genetic variation that may be adaptive to endophyte–host grass symbiota in stressful environments. For Arizona fescue (Festuca arizonica), hybrid symbiota are commonly found in resource-poor environments, whereas non-hybrid symbiota are more common in resource-rich environments. There have been very few experimental tests where infection, hybrid and non-hybrid status, and plant genotype have been controlled to tease apart their effects on host phenotype and fitness in different environments. We conducted a greenhouse experiment where hybrid (H) and non-hybrid (NH) endophytes were inoculated into plant genotypes that were originally uninfected (E-) or once infected with either the H or NH endophytes. Nine endophyte and plant genotypic group combinations were grown under low and high water and nutrient treatments. Inoculation with the resident H endophyte enhanced growth and altered allocation to roots and shoots, but these effects were greatest in resource-rich environments, contrary to expectations. We found no evidence of co-adaptation between endophyte species and their associated host genotypes. However, naturally E- plants performed better when inoculated with the hybrid endophyte, suggesting these plants were derived from H infected lineages. Our results show complex interactions between endophyte species of hybrid and non-hybrid origin with their host plant genotypes and environmental factors.

Additional Information

Microbial Ecology (2016) 72: 185-196
Language: English
Date: 2016
Abiotic stress, Endophyte, Festuca arizonica, Hybridization, Inoculation, Plant genotype

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