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Variation Among Orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata) Germplasm for Choke Prevalence Caused by Epichloë typhina

Bushman, B. Shaun, Singh, Devesh, Lamp, Robin, Young, Carolyn A., Charlton, Nikki D., Robins, Joseph G., Anderson, Nicole
Plant disease 2019 v.103 no.2 pp. 324-330
Dactylis glomerata, biosynthesis, breeding, cold season, cultivars, endophytes, ergot alkaloids, flowering date, forage grasses, fungicides, genes, genetic resistance, germplasm, mating types, secondary metabolites, stand age, temperate zones, tillers
Orchardgrass, or cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata L.), is a cool-season forage grass susceptible to the choke disease caused by Epichloë typhina. Choke has been reported in orchardgrass seed production fields across the temperate regions of the world, but fungicides have not been efficacious in reducing choke incidence or prevalence. To assess the potential for genetic resistance or tolerance of orchardgrass to choke, we evaluated the variation in orchardgrass cultivars and accessions for choke prevalence and characterized infected plants for endophyte secondary metabolite and mating type gene presence. Significant variation was detected across years and locations. Choke prevalence did not always increase with the age of the stand, nor did choke prevalence correlate with flowering time or swathing time of the entries. Both mating types of E. typhina were detected in approximately equal proportions, and no evidence for loline, ergot alkaloid, or indole-diterpene biosynthesis was found. Plants with multiple infected tillers often showed more than one mating type present in the plant, indicating multiple infection events rather than a single infection event that spread to multiple tillers. Both accessions and cultivars with significant choke, and no choke, were detected, which constitute sources of germplasm for further testing and breeding.