Endophytic fungi belonging to the genus Neotyphodium, confer resistance to infected host grasses against insect pests. The effect of host species, and endophtye species and strain, on feeding and survival of the corn flea beetle, Chaetocnema pulicaria Melsheimer (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) was investigated. The grass—endophyte associations included natural and artificially derived associations producing varying arrays of common endophyte-related alkaloids or alkaloid groups, peramine, lolitrem B, ergovaline, and the lolines. Preference and nonpreference tests showed that C. pulicaria feeding and survival were reduced by infection of tall fescue with the wild-type strain of N. coenophialum, the likely mechanism being antixenosis rather than antibiosis. In the preference tests, endophyte and host species effects were observed. Of the 10 different Neotyphodium strains tested in artificially derived tall fescue associations, eight strongly deterred feeding by C. pulicaria, whereas the remaining two strains had little or no effect on feeding. Infection of tall fescue with another fungal symbiont, p-endophyte, had no effect. Perennial ryegrass, Lolium perenne L., infected with six strains of endophyte, was moderately resistant to C. pulicaria compared with endophyte-free grass, but four additional strains were relatively inactive. Six Neotyphodium—mendow fescue, Festuca pratensis Huds., associations, including the wild-type N. uncinatum—mendow fescue combination, were resistant, whereas three associations were not effective. Loline alkaloids seemed to play a role in antixenosis to C. pulicaria. Effects not attributable to the lolines or any other of the alkaloids examined also were observed. This phenomenon also has been reported in tests with other insects, and indicates the presence of additional insect-active factors.
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Vol. 104 • No. 2