Ground Cover Supplement : GC Supplement - International collaboration
3 INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION GROUND COVER COMMON INTEREST THE MARCH–APRIL 2009 Ground Cover Supplement (‘New farm products and services’) reported on a new research project on cereal endophytes. In the past three years considerable progress has been made in this project, which is a collaboration between New Zealand and Australian research organisations and funding bodies. The project’s objective is the development of productive relationships between cereals and fungal endophytes (see breakout), to provide cereals with additional defence mechanisms against pests, diseases and abiotic stress, such as drought. The AgResearch research team in New Zealand has extensive experience working with endophytes and has successfully introduced them to grass species. While endophytes have been isolated from wild relatives of barley and wheat, and previous work had found that a single endophyte can affect pests across multiple grass species, no research had achieved a successful endophyte relationship in modern cereals. To achieve this considerable breakthrough, background work included the development of new markers and screening tests to establish the presence of different endophytes and their successful introduction into a cereal. In the past year germplasm from 16 grass genera have been screened. Other developmental work has included improving the assembly of the genome sequence for cereal endophytes. Although Australian field trials of cereal lines associated with endophytes are several years away, the research team has made considerable progress. These include demonstrating endophyte activity against insects and plant diseases in wild relatives of modern cereals. In addition, small animal studies have revealed no adverse effects from alkaloids, which are similar to those produced by some of the more interesting cereal endophyte strains. Intellectual property (IP) protection rights for ‘PHYTING’ THE GOOD FIGHT New Zealand scientists are helping Antipodean growers be the first to access grain protection from endophytes By John Caradus and David Hume COUNTRY New Zealand Fungal endophyte growing among cells of a cereal grain, viewed at 400 x magnification. IMAGE: DAVID HUME endophytes with chemical profiles suitable for infecting modern cereals prevent the reporting of details of the pests or diseases against which the endophytes show promise. However, to date no screening has been done to demonstrate effects against rust. By having a consortium of funders – Grasslanz Technology Ltd, the New Zealand Ministry of Science and Innovation, the Foundation for Arable Research and the GRDC – a more comprehensive, focused research effort can be achieved, which should result in better outcomes than isolated or uncoordinated attempts. No other group has overcome the technical hurdles that stood between successfully functioning endophytes in cereals; so we can proudly say our team is a leader in this field and hope this research will bring early benefits to growers in Australia and New Zealand. □ GRDC Research Code GTL00001 More information: Dr John Caradus, CEO, Grasslanz Technology Ltd, +64 6 351 8001, firstname.lastname@example.org; Dr David Hume, plant scientist and endophyte team leader, AgResearch Ltd, +64 6 351 8092, email@example.com .nz; www.grdc.com.au/GTL00001 WHAT ARE ENDOPHYTES? In broad terms, endophytes are organisms such as bacteria or fungi that live for at least part of their life cycle symbiotically within plants. Such organisms can benefit their host by preventing colonisation by other organisms that may be pathogenic. Endophytes may also inhibit the growth of competitor plants and help increase tolerance to both biotic and abiotic stresses. A single plant leaf might harbour several different species of endophytes. Endophytes can be transmitted directly from the host plant to the next generation in the seed/grain; this is called vertical transmission. However, endophytes are generally more vulnerable than the seed and die faster than the seed, particularly at high temperature and humidity. Horizontal transmission is the term used when endophytes transmit from one plant to another, such as when they reproduce sexually and produce spores that are spread by wind or insects. Epichloae (Epichloë/Neotyphodium species) endophytes are a particular group of fungal endophytes that colonise grasses. Neotyphodium species are exclusively vertically transmitted; they colonise each new generation via the seed. They have no deleterious effects on their hosts and provide a range of benefits that aid host survival and persistence.
GC Supplement - Crop protection
GC Supplement - Farm business management