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Genetic structure of natural populations of the grass endophyte Epichloë festucae in semiarid grasslands

Authors

  • R. Arroyo García,

    1. Departamento de Genética Molecular de Plantas, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, CSIC, Campus de la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain,
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  • J. M. Martínez Zapater,

    1. Departamento de Genética Molecular de Plantas, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, CSIC, Campus de la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain,
    2. Departamento de Mejora Genética y Biotecnología, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria, Madrid, Spain,
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  • B. García Criado,

    1. Instituto de Recursos Naturales y Agrobiología, CSIC, Apartado 257, 37008 Salamanca, Spain
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  • I. Zabalgogeazcoa

    Corresponding author
    1. Instituto de Recursos Naturales y Agrobiología, CSIC, Apartado 257, 37008 Salamanca, Spain
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I. Zabalgogeazcoa. Fax: 34-923-219609; E-mail: izabalgo@usal.es

Abstract

Plants of red fescue (Festuca rubra), a commercially important turf grass, are infected by the fungal endophyte Epichloë festucae in semiarid natural grasslands, known as dehesas, in western Spain. We used amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers to analyse the genetic polymorphism existing in two natural populations of Epichloë festucae. Linkage disequilibrium and the presence of clonal lineages indicated that nonrecombinant asexual reproduction predominates in both populations. However, most genetic variation detected was found to occur within populations, with only a moderate amount of genetic differentiation between populations (FST: 0.197). Overall, the study suggests that dehesa grasslands are useful reservoirs of Epichloë festucae endophytes, and provides information on population structure which is relevant to design sampling strategies.

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