Signalling in the Epichloë festucae: Perennial Ryegrass Mutualistic Symbiotic Interaction

  • Carla Eaton
  • Milena Mitic
  • Barry ScottEmail author
Part of the Signaling and Communication in Plants book series (SIGCOMM, volume 11)


Epichloë festucae is a biotrophic fungus that forms symbiotic associations with temperate grasses of the Festuca and Lolium spp. The association between E. festucae and L. perenne (perennial ryegrass) is a good experimental system to study these endophyte–grass associations. Integral to the establishment and maintenance of these mutualistic associations is mutual communication between the endophyte and host partner. This communication will likely involve many well-known signalling pathways. Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades and second messenger signalling pathways involving cAMP and calcium are the main pathways for transduction of signals perceived by cell surface receptors such as G-protein coupled receptors and histidine kinases. Here we review what is currently known about signalling mechanisms in the E. festucaeL. perenne symbiosis including a bioinformatics analysis of the E. festucae genome to identify which components of these key signalling pathways have been conserved in this organism. Where pathways are yet to be functionally analysed in E. festucae we present data from fungal plant pathogens and try to predict possible functions for these pathways in endophyte associations.


Filamentous Fungus Perennial Ryegrass Histidine Kinase Hyphal Growth Phytopathogenic Fungus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by grants from the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) to the Bio-Protection Research Centre, the Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund (07MAU046), Massey University and by a Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarship to CE from TEC. We thank Emma Brasell (IMBS) and Dimitry Sokolov (Manawatu Microscopy and Imaging Centre, IMBS) for preparation of the image used in Fig. 1.

The E. festucae E2368 and E894 genome sequences were made available by Christopher Schardl through grants EF-0523661 from the US National Science Foundation (to Christopher Schardl, Mark Farman and Bruce Roe) and 2005-35319-16141 from the US Department of Agriculture National Research (to Christopher Schardl).


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Molecular BioSciences, Centre for Functional GenomicsMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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