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Neotyphodium in Cool-Season Grasses.

Neotyphodium in Cool-Season Grasses. Edited by C.A. ROBERTS, C.P. WEST, and D.E. SPIERS. Blackwell Publishing, 2121 State Avenue, Ames, IA 50014. 2005. Hardcover, 379 pp., $149.99. ISBN 0-8138-0189-3.

Neotyphodium and Epichloe are clavicipitaceous fungi that commonly infect C-3 grasses. The fungi produce alkaloids that can provide the grass host resistance to vertebrates, invertebrates, and pathogens and can also alter abiotic stress tolerance in their host. Endophytes are agronomically important because their hosts include species of Festuca and Lolium, which are widely grown in temperate climates throughout the world for forage and turf. The fungi are important ecologically because they are common symbionts of many grasses and can modify the way grasses interact with their biotic and abiotic environments. Neotyphodium in Cool-Season Grasses was produced in conjunction with the 5th International Symposium on Neotyphodium/Grass Interactions held in May of 2004 and presents the research findings over the past 5 years. The book will be useful to researchers, educators, and extension specialists as a "one-stop shopping" opportunity into endophyte biology.

Endophytes play complex roles in the communities within which they reside; therefore, their study is best accomplished by many different types of scientists. Neotyphodium in Cool-Season Grasses adequately covers this breadth in four sections (Molecular Biology; Ecology and Agronomy; Animal Toxicoses; and Technology Transfer and Quality Assurance). Each section contains chapters written by leading researchers from around the world. The book begins with a collection of six chapters on current research trends. These give helpful historical overviews with brief summaries of important developments over the last 5 years in various regions around the globe. Through these chapters, the reader learns that many issues, such as the introduction and evaluation of nontoxic endophytes, are common among regions. Yet, region-to-region differences, such as the specific grass species used in each region and their associated challenges, are also apparent.

The section on molecular biology includes exciting developments that will be of interest to plant breeders. Schardl and Panaccione present the latest information on biosynthesis of loline and ergot alkaloids by grass endophytes. The aim here is the eventual genetic manipulation to produce nontoxic endophytes. Cloning of the biosynthesis genes also allows rapid screening of field isolates for presence, distribution, and expression of the genes. Spangenberg and colleagues present an exciting chapter on gene discovery, including gene annotation and fungal transcriptomics. While still in their infancy with respect to Neotyphodium and Epichloe, these techniques are gaining momentum and hold great promise for suggesting enlightening experiments at the biochemical level, such as investigations of the pathways of alkaloid biosynthesis and the nature of fungus--host signaling.

The section on ecology and agronomy offers four chapters that review the latest work on the ecology of grass endophytes in managed and natural ecosystems. Omacini et al. offer an ecosystem framework that provides an overview of possible ecological interactions including above- and below-ground compartments. They raise important questions for future research about impacts of endophytes on litter decomposition and ecosystem productivity. The section also includes a thorough review of invertebrate and disease resistance as well as a chapter on impacts of endophytes on abiotic stress tolerance. In the final chapter in the section, Hume and Barker provide insight into the management of endophytes in the pastoral agricultural system in New Zealand.

The third section deals with the toxic effects of endophytes on livestock. While likely not of primary interest to readers of Crop Science, the chapters are well written and accessible to those not trained as animal scientists. Five chapters cover topics that include toxicosis of sheep caused by specific toxins produced in endophyte-infected perennial ryegrass, the use of animal models in studying toxicoses, the pathology of ergot alkaloid toxicoses, and ways for producers to reduce the effects of toxic endophytes.

The book ends with a section on technology transfer and quality assurance. Bouton and Easton provide a review of the very successful development and production of tall rescue and perennial ryegrass cultivars with novel nontoxic endophytes. These grasses were inoculated with fungal endophytes that were collected from plants in their native habitats. They do not produce (or do so at low levels) many of the alkaloids that cause animal toxicoses. The section also contains chapters on recent developments in turfgrass cultivars, quality assurance of pasture seed in Australia, and survey results of extension specialists and how they perceive and deal with endophytes in the tall fescue belt of the USA.

In sum, Neotyphodium in Cool-Season Grasses is an excellent collection of recent literature that those working with pasture or turf grass will want to have on their shelf. In addition, plant and fungal ecologists who seek to learn more about the fascinating grass endophytes will find Neotyphodium in Cool-Season Grasses an excellent starting place.

Thomas L. Bultman

Biology Department Hope College

35 E. 12th Street Holland, MI 49422-9000


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Author:Bultman, Thomas L.
Publication:Crop Science
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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