by Staff Writers
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Turf Grass Fungal Protocol
Now we learn that by working with natural fungal agents, it becomes possible to suppress insect damage to grasses. This will certainly have a major effect on the sustainability of all turf everywhere.
A lot of human effort goes into lawn management. Reining that in with a natural fungus protocol is always welcome.
We live in the golden age of gaining new knowledge in biological processes and many more such problems are out there to be resolved.
Scientists make turfgrass safer for animals, deadly for insects
by Staff Writers
The right combination of compounds produced by a beneficial fungus could lead to grasses that require fewer pesticides and are safer for wildlife and grazing animals, according to
scientists. Purdue University
Neotyphodium is a fungus called an endophyte. It lives symbiotically, feeding off many species of grasses while providing the grass with protection from insects such as black cutworm. But Neotyphodium also can be toxic to animals based on the types of alkaloids it produces. It was once a serious concern for pasture managers.
Scientists have previously eliminated alkaloid profiles that caused toxicity in livestock, meaning pasture managers could feed their livestock without making them sick. But in making the grasses safe for animals, their susceptibility to insects came into question.
"These endophytes have changed everything for farmers who let their animals graze," said Douglas Richmond, a Purdue assistant professor of turfgrass entomology and applied ecology. "But they created another potential problem."
They found a relatively few strains of the fungus that meet both criteria by producing two key alkaloid toxins - N-acetyl norloline and peramine which are a product of the fungal metabolism.
The scientists determined they were effective by characterizing insect growth and survival on grasses with different alkaloid profiles.
"Both are relatively safe for mammals and other grazing wildlife,"
said. "Now the seed industry can put these endophytes into turf and
pasture grasses and not worry about potential non-target effects." Richmond
Those endophytes also mean that farmers, golf course turf managers and even homeowners caring for their lawns could use fewer insecticides to manage their grasses.
"I think this is going to be very important for sustainability. It's going to decrease the footprint of cultured turf and pasture grasses," said
whose results were published in the Journal of Environmental Entomology.
"And if you like having wildlife around having deer come up to your lawn
if you live near the woods this is a benefit because it's safe for those
Richmond said he is working with a New Zealand company, AgResearch USA Ltd., that develops turfgrass varieties to include these novel endophytes for sale in the
turfgrass market. U.S.