What is endophyte?
Endophyte is a naturally occurring fungus (Epichloë festucae var. lolii, formerly known as Neotyphodium lolii) found in many grass species. It grows inside the plant between the plant cells, and produces chemical compounds known as alkaloids which help protect the plant from insect damage. However, endophyte can also affect animal health and performance.
Why have endophyte?
Endophyte enhances the yield and persistence of ryegrass by helping protect plants from a range of insects and other pests. In summer dry situations ryegrass containing endophyte consistently out-yields and persists much better than ryegrass Without endophyte.
Why do you need to know about endophyte?
Different strains of endophyte are available so you need to know which is best for your situation. Choosing the right endophyte will improve pasture yield and persistence, and stock health and performance.
The traditional Standard (or Wild) endophyte depresses animal performance and can cause summer staggers. Several novel endophytes less toxic to stock have been discovered. AR1, NEA2 and Endo5 greatly reduce the risk of staggers and improve animal performance. AR37 endophyte has improved insect resistance but can cause staggers, although with less frequency or severity than the old Standard endophyte.
Where ryegrass with an endophyte (e.g. NEA2) is sown, the resultant plants will always contain that particular endophyte. The endophyte lives inside the plant for the life of that plant. If seed Without endophyte is sown, the resultant plants will never have endophyte. It does not transfer from plant to plant, or from soil to plant.