Endophyte Infection May Affect the Competitive Ability of Tall Fescue Grown with Red Clover Academic Article uri icon


  • Cool-season grasses infected with Neotyphodium endophytes may be more persistent and competitive than noninfected plants. In a greenhouse experiment, two tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) cloned genotypes (DN2 and DN11) with different growth characteristics and endophyte status (E-, non-infected; E+, infected) were grown in monocultures and in full competition with red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) cv. Reddy Red for 20 weeks. When grown in monoculture, endophyte infection reduced the root dry matter (DM) of DN2 (16 %) and DN11 (5%) when compared to E- plants, while shoot DM was not affected. In full competition with red clover, root and shoot DM of tall rescue were not influenced by endophytes, but cumulative herbage DM yield was less in E+ than in E- plants. Root growth of red clover was significantly depressed (22 %) in competition with E+ plants of DN2 compared to E- plants, but was not affected when plants were grown in competition with DN11. The relative yield total (RYT) did not differ from 1.0 in red clover mixtures with E- plants of DN2 and DN11, and with E+ plants of DN11, indicating competition between the competitors for the same resources. In contrast, RYT was less than 1.0 in the red clover/DN2 E+ mixture, suggesting a negative interaction between the competitors. Endophyte infection increased the competitive ability of DN2 but reduced that of DN11 when compared to E- plants. Because the concentration of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in roots of E+ plants of DN2 was twice that found in roots of DN11 (1083 and 536 g g-1, respectively), we suggest that pyrrolizidine alkaloids might influence the competitive ability of some endophyte-tall rescue associations through a possible allelopathic effect on companion species.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science

author list (cited authors)

  • Malinowski, D. P., Belesky, D. P., & Fedders, J. M.

citation count

  • 40

complete list of authors

  • Malinowski, DP||Belesky, DP||Fedders, JM

publication date

  • September 1999