Track 1-05

Description

Several important temperate pasture grasses have co-evolved with mutualistic Epichloë fungal endophytes. These endophytes impart beneficial attributes to their host as they enhance the fitness of the grass when under biotic and abiotic stresses. The asexual species of these fungi (formerly classed as Neotyphodium) are obligate symbionts, and efficiently colonise newly formed tillers and infect seed by direct colonisation of the embryo. These endophytes are strictly seed transmitted. Survival of the fungus in this seed is therefore critical for the dissemination of endophyte-infected seed to grassland farmers. Longevity of endophyte in stored seed is primarily determined by the length of storage, temperature, and relative humidity as this is in equilibrium with seed moisture. Elevated temperature and relative humidity both reduce endophyte viability. The relative importance of each of these environmental parameters is unclear. Longevity may be further modified by grass species, cultivar, seed lot, and endophyte strain. Valuable seed requiring long term storage can utilise controlled storage facilities where temperature is preferably ≤ 5oC and relative humidity ≤ 30% (seed moisture < 8%). For large quantities of commercial seed, moisture barrier packaging can be used.

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Effects of Storage Conditions on Endophyte and Seed Viability in Pasture Grasses

Several important temperate pasture grasses have co-evolved with mutualistic Epichloë fungal endophytes. These endophytes impart beneficial attributes to their host as they enhance the fitness of the grass when under biotic and abiotic stresses. The asexual species of these fungi (formerly classed as Neotyphodium) are obligate symbionts, and efficiently colonise newly formed tillers and infect seed by direct colonisation of the embryo. These endophytes are strictly seed transmitted. Survival of the fungus in this seed is therefore critical for the dissemination of endophyte-infected seed to grassland farmers. Longevity of endophyte in stored seed is primarily determined by the length of storage, temperature, and relative humidity as this is in equilibrium with seed moisture. Elevated temperature and relative humidity both reduce endophyte viability. The relative importance of each of these environmental parameters is unclear. Longevity may be further modified by grass species, cultivar, seed lot, and endophyte strain. Valuable seed requiring long term storage can utilise controlled storage facilities where temperature is preferably ≤ 5oC and relative humidity ≤ 30% (seed moisture < 8%). For large quantities of commercial seed, moisture barrier packaging can be used.