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Fitness Attributes of Bacterial and Fungal Seed Endophytes of Tall Fescue

  • Elizabeth Lewis RobertsEmail author
  • Brendan Mormile
  • Christopher Adamchek
Chapter

Abstract

Increased fitness in tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) is attributed to infection by Epichloë coenophiala. However, plant growth-promoting (PGP) bacteria also increase the fitness of many host plants, and PGP bacteria have been shown to dominate the phyllosphere and rhizosphere microbiome of E. coenophiala-infected (E+) tall fescue. Because E. coenophialum lives endophytically in tall fescue seeds, we hypothesized that PGP bacteria also live within the seeds and could provide fitness advantages to the host. Endophyte-infected (E+) and endophyte-free (E−) Kentucky-31 tall fescue seeds were surface sterilized to remove epiphytic bacteria. Surface sterilized and non-surface sterilized control plants of each type were cultivated for 6 weeks before withholding water to simulate drought. Normal watering was resumed after 4 days. Plant recovery of each group was measured by assigning a numerical value to tillers based on the state of decline. Surface-sterilized E+ plants were unable to recover as efficiently as E+ controls but outperformed both E− groups. Additionally, total 16S amplified DNA extracted from each seed type was analyzed with Illumina sequencing to assess the internal microbial communities from E+ and E− seeds as well as the seed coat microbiome. E+ seeds have lower diversity of endophytic bacterial species and are dominated by Pseudomonadaceae. Further, several of the seed endophytes are PGP bacterial strains.

Keywords

Epichloë spp. Epichloë coenophialum Clavicipitaceae Plant growth-promoting bacteria Plant growth promotion Tall fescue Stress tolerance 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Lewis Roberts
    • 1
    Email author
  • Brendan Mormile
    • 1
  • Christopher Adamchek
    • 1
  1. 1.Southern Connecticut State UniversityNew HavenUSA

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