Skip to main content

Co-occurring patterns of endophyte infection and genetic structure in the alpine grass, Festuca eskia: implications for seed sourcing in ecological restoration


Choosing the provenance of seed used in ecological restoration could entail its success. An alternative approach to examine local adaptation in seed sourcing is the assessment of genetic structure and diversity based on molecular markers. These types of analyses focus on the genetics of the target plant itself and eliminate the genetic influence of associated organisms, such as Epichloë/Neotyphodium endophytes in grasses. By impacting the fitness of their host, such symbionts may influence population genetic structure and diversity. Therefore, seed sourcing for grasses must consider the influence of their endophytes to increase seed translocation success and minimize the risks associated with this practice. To delineate seed zones for restoration of the alpine fescue Festuca eskia Ramond ex. DC. (Poaceae), we assessed population genetic differentiation and diversity patterns in the species including endophyte occurrence along altitudinal and longitudinal gradients in the Pyrenees Mountains. Twenty-three populations were analysed for endophyte status, and three STS and one SSR marker were used to examine genetic differentiation and diversity patterns. Results showed that F. eskia hosts an asexual form of Epichloë and infection frequency within populations decreased from East to West (100 vs. 8–25%). Molecular markers separated F. eskia into two East and West groups, and endophyte infection and genetic patterns were congruent with molecular data. Little evidence for genetic differentiation or difference in endophyte occurrence associated with altitude was detected. Little variation was found in within population diversity, regardless of provenance altitude and site, and/or endophyte infection frequency. The results of this study suggested the establishment of two distinct management units for F. eskia seed sourcing restoration.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


Download references


We would like to thank A. Leuchtmann for examining F. eskia endophyte, P. Laurent who collected samples and conducted endophyte laboratory work, P. Cormenier, C. Gibelin and C. Talon for the genetic laboratory work, I. Till-Bottraud for helpful comments on the manuscript and, A. Ashworth for improving the English text. These results are part of H.G.-T. PhD thesis. This work was funded by Ecovars2 project and INRA-SAD. Ecovars2 is funded by The European Union, the French state and Régions Midi-Pyrénées, Aquitaine and Languedoc-Roussillon.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to L. Hazard.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Gonzalo-Turpin, H., Barre, P., Gibert, A. et al. Co-occurring patterns of endophyte infection and genetic structure in the alpine grass, Festuca eskia: implications for seed sourcing in ecological restoration. Conserv Genet 11, 877–887 (2010).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Epichloë
  • Endophyte
  • Festuca eskia
  • Population genetic structure
  • Gene flow
  • STS
  • SSR
  • Restoration
  • Seed sourcing