Influence of phosphorus on the growth and ergot alkaloid content of Neotyphodium coenophialum-infected tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) Academic Article uri icon


  • Tall rescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) plants infected by the fungal endophyte Neotyphodium coenophialum (Morgan-Jones and Gams) (Glenn et al., 1996) often perform better than noninfected plants, especially in marginal resource environments. There is a lack of information about endophyte related effects on the rhizosphere of grasses. In a greenhouse experiment, four endophyte-infected (E+) tall fescue clones (DN2, DN4, DN7, DN11) and their endophyte-free (E-) forms were grown in limed (pH 6.3) Porter soil (low fertility, acidic, high aluminum and low phosphorus content, coarse-loamy mixed mesic Umbric Dystrochrept) at three soil P levels (17, 50, and 96 mg P kg-1 soil) for five months. Excluding the genotype effect, endophyte infection significantly increased cumulative herbage DM yield by 8% at 17 mg P kg-1 soil but reduced cumulative herbage DM yield by 12% at 96 mg P kg-1 soil. With increased P availability in the soil, shoot and root DM, and root/shoot ratio in E+ plants were significantly less when compared to E- plants. Endophyte infection increased specific root length at 17 and 50 mg P kg-1 soil. At soil P level of 17 mg P kg-1 soil, E+ plants had significantly higher P concentrations both in roots and shoots. Similar relationships were found for Mg and Ca. E+ plants had significantly higher Zn, Fe, and Al concentration in roots, and lower Mn and Al concentration in shoots when compared to E- plants. Ergot alkaloid concentration and content in shoot of E+ plants increased with increasing P availability in the soil from 17 to 50 mg P kg-1 but declined again at 96 mg P kg-1 soil. Ergot alkaloid accumulation in roots increased linearly with P availability in the soil. Results suggest that endophyte infection affects uptake of phosphorus and other mineral nutrients and may benefit tall rescue grown on P-deficient soils. Phosphorus seems also to be involved in ergot alkaloid accumulation in endophyte-infected tall fescue.

published proceedings

  • Plant and Soil

author list (cited authors)

  • Malinowski, D. P., Belesky, D. P., Hill, N. S., Baligar, V. C., & Fedders, J. M.

citation count

  • 87

complete list of authors

  • Malinowski, DP||Belesky, DP||Hill, NS||Baligar, VC||Fedders, JM

publication date

  • January 1998