Black beetle damage to perennial ryegrass infected with AR1 endophyte


  • A.J. Popay
  • J.G. Baltus



AR1 is a new fungal endophyte that is being released in perennial ryegrass to New Zealand farmers. This endophyte lacks the mammalian toxins, ergovaline and lolitrem B, but produces peramine which provides resistance to a major ryegrass pest, Argentine stem weevil (Listronotus bonariensis). Black beetle (Heteronychus arator) is another important pest of ryegrass in northern areas of New Zealand. Adults are selective feeders, and avoid feeding on ryegrass infected with wildtype endophyte. A limited supply of suitable food greatly reduces their reproductive capacity. Laboratory and field investigations were therefore carried out to evaluate the degree of resistance to black beetle provided by AR1. Assessments of adult black beetle feeding were made on two field trials planted in autumn 1999. In both trials, adult feeding was significantly higher on ryegrass infected with AR1 than on ryegrass with wild-type but also significantly lower on AR1 than on endophyte-free ryegrass. In a pot trial conducted in summer, black beetle adult damage to 4-week-old AR1-infected ryegrass was no different from damage to endophyte-free plants. However in 6-month-old plants, damage to AR1 plants was significantly less than to endophyte-free plants and was similar to damage levels on wild-type plants. A further pot trial showed that beetles overwintering on AR1 ryegrass had a higher reproductive capacity than those overwintering on wild-type infected ryegrass. In February 2001, two field trials planted the previous June were sampled for black beetle larvae. Black beetle presence was significantly higher on endophyte-free plots than on wild-type plots, with presence on AR1 intermediate between these treatments. Ryegrass infected with AR1, although showing a degree of resistance to black beetle compared with endophyte-free ryegrass, is more susceptible to damage than wild-type, particularly in its first year of planting. Limited data indicate that older AR1 swards may have similar resistance to that of the wild-type but further research is needed to clarify the effect of stand maturity on black beetle damage to ryegrass infected with this new endophyte. Keywords: AR1, black beetle, endophyte, Heteronychus, Listronotus, Neotyphodium, ryegrass







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