Use of a rat model to evaluate tall fescue seed infected with introduced strains of Neotyphodium coenophialum

C. A. Roberts, D. E. Spiers, A. L. Karr, H. R. Benedict, D. A. Sleper, P. A. Eichen, C. P. West, E. L. Piper, G. E. Rottinghaus

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Experimental cultivars of the pasture grass tall fescue are infected with unique strains of the fungal endophyte Neotyphodium coenophialum, which produce low concentrations of ergot alkaloids. A rat model was evaluated as a tool for rapid, initial screening of experimental cultivars considered to be nontoxic. Rats were fed diets that included seed from experimental cultivars of tall fescue with introduced strains of N. coenophialum and a toxic control diet containing seed of the cultivar Kentucky 31 (KY31), with its endemic strain of N. coenophialum. Rats were preconditioned to a nontoxic diet and then fed treatment diets for 13 days with 5 days at thermoneutrality (21 °C) followed by 8 days under heat stress (31 °C). For most of the 13-day treatment period, rats fed KY31 exhibited depressed daily intake compared to those fed diets of cultivars with introduced endophytes (P < 0.05). In addition, rats fed KY31 exhibited significantly less weight than rats on other diets after heat treatment was imposed. For all initial trials and repeated trials, total intake and total gain calculated at the end of each trial were the most consistent indicators of toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5742-5745
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number20
StatePublished - Sep 25 2002


  • Endophyte
  • Festuca arundinacea
  • Neotyphodium coenophialum
  • Tall fescue
  • Tall fescue toxicosis


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