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The known antimammalian and insecticidal alkaloids are not responsible for the antifungal activity of epichloë endophytes

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Asexual Epichloë sp. endophytes in association with pasture grasses produce agronomically important alkaloids (e.g., lolitrem B, epoxy-janthitrems, ergovaline, peramine, and lolines) that exhibit toxicity to grazing mammals and/or insect pests. Novel strains are primarily characterised for the presence of these compounds to ensure they are beneficial in an agronomical setting. Previous work identified endophyte strains that exhibit enhanced antifungal activity, which have the potential to improve pasture and turf quality as well as animal welfare through phytopathogen disease control. The contribution of endophyte-derived alkaloids to improving pasture and turf grass disease resistance has not been closely examined. To assess antifungal bioactivity, nine Epichloë related compounds, namely peramine hemisulfate, n-formylloline-d3, n-acetylloline hydrochloride, lolitrem B, janthitrem A, paxilline, terpendole E, terpendole C, and ergovaline, and four Claviceps purpurea ergot alkaloids, namely ergotamine, ergocornine, ergocryptine, and ergotaminine, were tested at concentrations higher than observed in planta in glasshouse and field settings using in vitro agar well diffusion assays against three common pasture and turf phytopathogens, namely Ceratobasidium sp., Drechslera sp., and Fusarium sp. Visual characterisation of bioactivity using pathogen growth area, mycelial density, and direction of growth indicated no inhibition of pathogen growth. This was confirmed by statistical analysis. The compounds responsible for antifungal bioactivity of Epichloë endophytes hence remain unknown and require further investigation.

Funding

The research was funded by Agriculture Victoria and DairyBio.

History

Publication Date

17/11/2021

Journal

Plants

Volume

10

Issue

11

Article Number

2486

Pagination

12p.

Publisher

Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)

ISSN

2223-7747

Rights Statement

© 2021 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 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).