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