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Survival, Germination, and Growth of Epichloë typhina and Significance of Leaf Wounds and Insects in Infection of Orchardgrass

March 2013 , Volume 97 , Number  3
Pages  323 - 328

Stephen C. Alderman , United States Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service, National Forage Seed Production Research Center, Corvallis, OR 97331

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Accepted for publication 30 August 2012.

Epichloë typhina is an important stroma-producing endophytic ascomycete that is responsible for significant yield loss in orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata) seed production fields. Infection is presumed to occur through leaves or stems, although details of the infection process and conditions that favor leaf infection are not well understood. The primary objectives of this study were to investigate the early stages of infection, including the effect of temperature or water potential on ascospore germination and subsequent growth of E. typhina, the tolerance of ascospores to desiccation, the requirement of leaf wounds for infection of orchardgrass by E. typhina, and the potential for insects to facilitate infection. Ascospores tolerated dry conditions, with at least 40% surviving 12 days under desiccation. Germination and growth of E. typhina was greatest at 25°C, with little to no growth at 5 and 35°C. Mycelial growth decreased with decreasing water potential from –0.3 to –10 MPa. Ascospore germination on leaves was predominantly hyphal at wound sites and iterative (conidiogenous) at sites without wounds. E. typhina typically entered leaves through wounds. Direct penetration was rarely observed and appeared to be associated with ascospore clusters. Germ tubes were significantly longer at sites with honeydew deposits from the bird cherry–oat aphid than at sites without honeydew. Growth of E. typhina was also observed at feeding sites of eriophyid mites, suggesting that leaf-wounding or sap-excreting insects support epiphyllous growth of E. typhina on leaves.

This article is in the public domain and not copyrightable. It may be freely reprinted with customary crediting of the source. The American Phytopathological Society, 2013.