Year of Publication

2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Agriculture

Department

Plant and Soil Science

First Advisor

Dr. G. E. Aiken

Second Advisor

Dr. C. T. Dougherty

Abstract

A wild-type endophyte (Neotyphodium coenophialum [(Morgan-Jones & Gams) Glen Bacon & Hanlin]) that infects tall fescue [Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) Darbysh. = Schedonorous arundinaceum (Schreb.) Dumort.] imparts tolerances to moisture, heat, and grazing stresses, but also produces ergot alkaloids that adversely affect performance and physiology of cattle. Novel endophytes, developed by AgResearch Ltd. NZ, can sustain fescue persistence and productivity, but do not produce toxic ergot alkaloids. University of Kentucky Plant Breeder, T. D. Phillips Ph.D, developed a tall fescue experimental population (KYFA9301) for the upper transition zone. A 2-yr grazing experiment was conducted with steers to evaluate steer performance and physiology, and forage quality and productivity of KYFA9301 infected with AR584 novel endophyte (AR584) compared with KY31 wild-type endophyte (KY31), endophyte-free KYFA9301 (EF9301) and AR542-‘Jesup’ (MaxQ). Fescue-endophyte combinations were assigned to 1.0-ha pastures in a randomized complete block design with three replications. Pastures were grazed with variable stocking (four testers) from 6 May to 23 July 2008 (76 d), and 2 April to 25 June 2009 (84 d). Shrunk bodyweights were taken at initiation and termination of grazing each year. Average daily gains among MaxQ, AR584, and EF9301 were similar and were greater (P < 0.10) than KY31. Rectal and skin temperatures were collected three times each year at approximately days 28, 56, and study completion, along with blood collection for serum prolactin assay. Rectal and skin temperatures among AR584, MaxQ, and EF9301 were similar and were lower (P < 0.10) than KY31. Serum prolactin concentrations were similar among the three nontoxic varieties and higher (P < 0.10) than KY31. Forage collections were taken at 2 week intervals throughout the study each year and nutritive quality analysis were conducted through wet chemistry to determine forage acid detergent fiber (ADF), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), crude protein (CP), and In-Vitro Dry Matter Digestibility (IVDMD). Nutritive analyses indicated no differences between fescue-endophyte combinations with the exception of EF9301 having higher ADF concentrations (P = 0.031) than KY31 during the dry year of 2008. Results indicated steer performance and physiological responses for KYFA9301, with and without AR584 were enhanced compared to KY31 and similar to those for MaxQ.

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