10 Oct 2012

New endophyte deters insect pests from plant root

9:40 am on 10 October 2012

A pasture plant breeding company says it has developed what it understands to be the first endophyte that deters insects from eating the plant root.

An endophyte is a fungus that grows within grasses and other plants and protects the plant against insect pests.

Cropmark Seeds Ltd marketing manager Garry Begley says the new endophyte protects host grasses against serious pests such as grass grub and black beetle adults and larvae.

He says the company discovered that some European strains of meadow fescue host an endophyte that contains a family of alkaloids called lolines.

The difference between alkaloids in other commercially available endophytes and lolines is that the latter act throughout the plant, he says.

Mr Begley says the endophyte doesn't appear to have any harmful effect on livestock.