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Novel antifungal activity of lolium-associated epichloë endophytes

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Version 2 2022-05-19, 05:32
Version 1 2022-05-19, 05:29
journal contribution
posted on 2022-05-19, 05:32 authored by Hettiyadura Nimesha Krishni Fernando, Priyanka ReddyPriyanka Reddy, IK Hettiarachchige, German SpangenbergGerman Spangenberg, Simone RochfortSimone Rochfort, KM Guthridge
Asexual Epichloë spp. fungal endophytes have been extensively studied for their functional secondary metabolite production. Historically, research mostly focused on understanding toxicity of endophyte-derived compounds on grazing livestock. However, endophyte-derived compounds also provide protection against invertebrate pests, disease, and other environmental stresses, which is important for ensuring yield and persistence of pastures. A preliminary screen of 30 strains using an in vitro dual culture bioassay identified 18 endophyte strains with antifungal activity. The novel strains NEA12, NEA21, and NEA23 were selected for further investigation as they are also known to produce alkaloids associated with protection against insect pests. Antifungal activity of selected endophyte strains was confirmed against three grass pathogens, Ceratobasidium sp., Dreschlera sp., and Fusarium sp., using independent isolates in an in vitro bioassay. NEA21 and NEA23 showed potent activity against Ceratobasidium sp. and NEA12 showed moderate inhibition against all three pathogens. Crude extracts from liquid cultures of NEA12 and NEA23 also inhibited growth of the phytopathogens Ceratobasidium sp. and Fusarium sp. and provided evidence that the compounds of interest are stable, constitutively expressed, and secreted. Comparative analysis of the in vitro and in planta metabolome of NEA12 and NEA23 using LCMS profile data revealed individual metabolites unique to each strain that are present in vitro and in planta. These compounds are the best candidates for the differential bioactivity observed for each strain. Novel endophyte strains show promise for endophyte-mediated control of phytopathogens impacting Lolium spp. pasture production and animal welfare.


The research was funded by Agriculture Victoria and DairyBio.


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© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (