Systemic and asymptomatic Neotyphodium fungal endophytes infect numerous species of the Poaceae. The frequencies of Neotyphodium endophyte infection in Finland were investigated among and within seven Nordic cultivars of meadow fescue, Schedonorus pratensis (Huds.) P. Beauv., which is a widely grown pasture and forage grass species in Scandinavia. The cultivars were Kasper, Salten, Antti, Fure, Ilmari, Inkeri and Kalevi. Frequencies of infection of cultivars varied from endophyte-free cultivar Fure to highly infected cultivar Inkeri [mean (standard deviation of mean) of 0.95 (0.023)]. Mean frequencies of infection of three cultivars remained lower than 0.10, and two of the cultivars, Kasper and Salten, were intermediately infected. In most of the cultivars, frequencies of infection varied only slightly among seed lots. In cultivar Kasper, however, the frequency of endophyte infection was highly variable (0-0.96) among the 45 seed lots examined. The relative importance of cultivar, seed lot and infection by Neotyphodium endophyte to the aphid Rhopalosiphum padi L. was studied experimentally, using both endophyte-free and endophyte-infected plants of four seed lots of the two intermediately infected cultivars. Endophyte infection increased plant resistance to R. padi, overriding the influences of seed lot and cultivar. It is proposed that variation caused by endophyte infections in cultivars of meadow fescue should be taken into account in assessing plant breeding programmes in Europe.
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