Co-occurring patterns of endophyte infection and genetic structure in the alpine grass, Festuca eskia

Implications for seed sourcing in ecological restoration

H. Gonzalo-Turpin, P. Barre, A. Gibert, A. Grisard, C. P. West, L. Hazard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


Choosing the provenance of seed used in ecological restoration could entail its success. An alternative approach to examine local adaptation in seed sourcing is the assessment of genetic structure and diversity based on molecular markers. These types of analyses focus on the genetics of the target plant itself and eliminate the genetic influence of associated organisms, such as Epichloë/Neotyphodium endophytes in grasses. By impacting the fitness of their host, such symbionts may influence population genetic structure and diversity. Therefore, seed sourcing for grasses must consider the influence of their endophytes to increase seed translocation success and minimize the risks associated with this practice. To delineate seed zones for restoration of the alpine fescue Festuca eskia Ramond ex. DC. (Poaceae), we assessed population genetic differentiation and diversity patterns in the species including endophyte occurrence along altitudinal and longitudinal gradients in the Pyrenees Mountains. Twenty-three populations were analysed for endophyte status, and three STS and one SSR marker were used to examine genetic differentiation and diversity patterns. Results showed that F. eskia hosts an asexual form of Epichloë and infection frequency within populations decreased from East to West (100 vs. 8-25%). Molecular markers separated F. eskia into two East and West groups, and endophyte infection and genetic patterns were congruent with molecular data. Little evidence for genetic differentiation or difference in endophyte occurrence associated with altitude was detected. Little variation was found in within population diversity, regardless of provenance altitude and site, and/or endophyte infection frequency. The results of this study suggested the establishment of two distinct management units for F. eskia seed sourcing restoration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)877-887
Number of pages11
JournalConservation Genetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • Endophyte
  • Epichloë
  • Festuca eskia
  • Gene flow
  • Population genetic structure
  • Restoration
  • Seed sourcing
  • SSR
  • STS

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