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The Impact of Alkaloid-Producing Epichloë Endophyte on Forage Ryegrass Breeding: A New Zealand Perspective

Barenbrug, New Zealand Ltd., 2547 Old West Coast Road, Courtenay, Christchurch 7671, New Zealand
Received: 30 November 2020 / Revised: 28 January 2021 / Accepted: 6 February 2021 / Published: 18 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Global Impact of Ergot Alkaloids)
For 30 years, forage ryegrass breeding has known that the germplasm may contain a maternally inherited symbiotic Epichloë endophyte. These endophytes produce a suite of secondary alkaloid compounds, dependent upon strain. Many produce ergot and other alkaloids, which are associated with both insect deterrence and livestock health issues. The levels of alkaloids and other endophyte characteristics are influenced by strain, host germplasm, and environmental conditions. Some strains in the right host germplasm can confer an advantage over biotic and abiotic stressors, thus acting as a maternally inherited desirable ‘trait’. Through seed production, these mutualistic endophytes do not transmit into 100% of the crop seed and are less vigorous than the grass seed itself. This causes stability and longevity issues for seed production and storage should the ‘trait’ be desired in the germplasm. This makes understanding the precise nature of the relationship vitally important to the plant breeder. These Epichloë endophytes cannot be ‘bred’ in the conventional sense, as they are asexual. Instead, the breeder may modulate endophyte characteristics through selection of host germplasm, a sort of breeding by proxy. This article explores, from a forage seed company perspective, the issues that endophyte characteristics and breeding them by proxy have on ryegrass breeding, and outlines the methods used to assess the ‘trait’, and the application of these through the breeding, production, and deployment processes. Finally, this article investigates opportunities for enhancing the utilisation of alkaloid-producing endophytes within pastures, with a focus on balancing alkaloid levels to further enhance pest deterrence and improving livestock outcomes. View Full-Text
Keywords: endophyte transmission; livestock safety; insect testing; quality control; alkaloid profile endophyte transmission; livestock safety; insect testing; quality control; alkaloid profile
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MDPI and ACS Style

Eady, C. The Impact of Alkaloid-Producing Epichloë Endophyte on Forage Ryegrass Breeding: A New Zealand Perspective. Toxins 2021, 13, 158. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020158

AMA Style

Eady C. The Impact of Alkaloid-Producing Epichloë Endophyte on Forage Ryegrass Breeding: A New Zealand Perspective. Toxins. 2021; 13(2):158. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020158

Chicago/Turabian Style

Eady, Colin. 2021. "The Impact of Alkaloid-Producing Epichloë Endophyte on Forage Ryegrass Breeding: A New Zealand Perspective" Toxins 13, no. 2: 158. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020158

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