Impact of endophytic fungi on seed and seedling characteristics in tall and meadow fescues

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

Department of Agronomy and Plant Breeding, College of Agriculture, Isfahan University of Technology-Isfahan-Iran.

Abstract

Tall fescue and meadow fescue are naturally infected with fungal endophytes, Neotyphodium
coenophialum and Neotyphodium uncinatum, respectively. Seed traits are an important measure
of the effects of the endophytic fungi which has been less addressed. In this study we used
endophyte-infected (EI) and endophyte-free (EF) clones of tall and meadow fescue genotypes in
the field to investigate the effects of endophytes on seed production traits and subsequently on
seed germination and seedling emergence. Endophyte infection increased the plant seed weight,
the number of seeds per plant and the number of panicles per plant in both plant species. Seed
germination was not affected by endophytes in tall fescue, while it was improved in endophyteinfected plants of meadow fescue. A negative endophyte effect was detectable for seedling
emergence percentage and emergence rate of tall fescue, whereas EI plants of meadow fescue
were positively affected by the endophyte for these characteristics. The better performance of EI
plants for seed production traits may increase their relative fitness in populations and cause
them to be more stable in different environmental conditions.


Keywords