A fungal endophyte reinforces population adaptive differentiation in its host grass species

Anaïs Gibert, Florence Volaire, Philippe Barre, Laurent Hazard*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    30 Citations (Scopus)


    • Hereditary symbioses between fungal endophytes and grasses are relatively recent in the history of plant life. Given <80millionyr of co-evolution, symbioses are likely to have impacted plant microevolutionary rather than macroevolutionary processes. Therefore, we investigated the microevolutionary role of the fungal endophyte Neotyphodium lolii in the adaptive differentiation of its host species Lolium perenne. • Endophyte frequency in 22 natural L. perenne populations was established across a water availability gradient. Adaptive differentiation among five populations, and between symbiotic (S) and nonsymbiotic (NS) plants, was examined in a glasshouse experiment under nonlimiting and limiting water conditions. Genetic differentiation was subsequently assessed among populations, and between S and NS individuals, using 14 simple sequence repeats (SSR). • Symbiosis frequencies were positively correlated to water availability. Adaptive population differentiation occurred following a trade-off between biomass production under nonlimiting water conditions and survivorship under water stress. Endophytic symbiosis increased plant survival in xeric populations, and reinforced competitiveness in mesic populations. No genetic difference was detected between S and NS plants within populations. Therefore, we conclude that the endophyte relationship is responsible for these effects. • Local adaptation of the host plant, appears to be supported by the fungal endophyte.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)561-571
    Number of pages11
    JournalNew Phytologist
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


    • Drought survival
    • Mutualism
    • Native grass
    • Neotyphodium
    • Plant strategy
    • Water stress


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