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Variation in the expression of ergot alkaloids between individual tillers of perennial ryegrass

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posted on 2023-05-03, 15:49 authored by Wade MaceWade Mace, Kristy Lunn, Navjot Kaur, Catherine Lloyd-West
Epichloë fungal endophytes of cool season grasses are well-known to produce a range of alkaloids of benefit to the host. Some of these compounds are advantageous to agriculture due to qualities that promote pasture persistence (e.g., the loline class of alkaloids confer insect protection) while others are detrimental to the well-being of grazing livestock. The ergot alkaloids(e.g., ergovaline), produced in ryegrass and tall fescue associations, causes poor animal health in farming regions in many countries around the world and further study is required to improve our knowledge on this class of compounds. Here we present the application of a quantitative LC-MS/MS(liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry)method measuring eight ergot alkaloids(chanoclavine, agroclavine, elymoclavine, lysergol, lysergic acid, ergine, lysergyl-alanine, ergovaline)produced by endophyte infected grasses, to monitor levels in individual tillers from multiple plants of a single cultivar of perennial ryegrass(Lolium perenne cv. “Grasslands Samson”) infected with a common toxic endophyte strain (Epichloë festuca evar. lolii. Monitoring the expression in individual tillers allows an estimation of the variability within a plant(between tillers)as well as between plants. The study showed that there is significant variation in the concentration of the ergot alkaloids between tillers of a single plant, at or exceeding the level of variation observed between individual plants of a population. This result emphasizes the fundamental importance of robust experimental design and sampling procedures when alkaloid expression assessment is required and these need to be rigorously tailored to the hypothesis being tested.


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© 2014 Mace, Lunn, Kaur and Lloyd-West. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


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Frontiers Media S.A.

Journal title

Frontiers in Chemistry




Mace, W.J., Lunn, K.L., Kaur, N. & Lloyd-West, C.M. (2014). Variation in the expression of ergot alkaloids between individual tillers of perennial ryegrass. Frontiers in Chemistry, 2:10. doi: 10.3389/fchem.2014.00107

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