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Ryegrass endophytes

Key points

  • Endophytes are fungi that exist inside plants.
  • They produce a wide range of compounds. The main ones are peramine, lolitrem B and ergovaline.
  • Peramine helps protect plants from insect attack, especially Argentine stem weevil.
  • Lolitrem B is a neurotoxin that causes ryegrass staggers in animals.
  • Ergovaline lowers blood prolactin levels and causes heat stress.
  • Some of these chemicals, in combination with other as yet unidentified compounds, depress intake and liveweight gain, and cause scouring and dags in sheep.
  • Non-toxic strains of endophyte have been identified.
  • The most promising, AR1, produces peramine and is commercially available. It protects the plant from insect attack and has no ill-effects on grazing animals.

For further information please download the attached PDF Ryegrassendophytes.pdf