Resources and testing of endophyte-infected germplasm in national grass repository collections
Clavicipitaceous endophytes have been known to exist in grasses since the discovery of an endophyte in seeds of damel (Lolium temulentum L.) by Vogl in 1898 (26). The oldest known specimens of damel with endophytic mycelium were seeds retrieved from a pharoah's tomb in an Egyptian pyramid dating back to 3400 B.C. (16). Subsequent work by numerous investigators has shown that these fungi have hosts that are widely distributed in the grass family (poaceae) and sporadically distributed in the sedge family (Cyperaceae) and rush family (Juncaceae) (3, 27). Most surveys for clavicipitaceous endophytes have concentrated on wild grasses and cultivated turfgrass and forage grass collections from Europe and North America (15, 20, 27). The extensive nation collections of wild and cultivated grasses in United States repository collections have been largely ignored. The intent of this chapter is to increase general awareness of this large and valuable resource available to anyone doing research on grasses including endophyte researchers. Furthermore, this report summa,rizes initial grass endophyte research conducted by the author and ,colleagues since early 1989 on grass germplasm from these national repository collections.