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Ecology and Evolution of the Grass-Endophyte Symbiosis$
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Gregory P. Cheplick and Stanley Faeth

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195308082

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195308082.001.0001

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Future Directions

Future Directions

(p.169) 7 Future Directions
Ecology and Evolution of the Grass-Endophyte Symbiosis

Gregory P. Cheplick

Stanley H. Faeth

Oxford University Press

Systemic endophytes of grasses provide ideal systems for testing ecological and evolutionary theory, as well as providing an important research platform for developing and improving pasture and turf grasses. Presently, most basic and applied research has been directed towards Neotyphodium-infected agronomic grasses. There is an urgent need to expand basic ecological and, especially, evolutionary studies to native grass systems and other systemic endophytes and the more ubiquitous, non-systemic endophytes. Little is understood about the effects of endophytes on host biology and reproduction, and even less about the complex effects of endophytes that change with host and endophyte genotype, host ontogeny, environment, and the presence of other interacting species. Long-term cost-benefit analyses across an array of varying biotic and abiotic factors seems like a prudent path of investigation. Studies of the coevolutionary dynamics of endophyte-host interactions are still in their infancy, yet endophyte-host interactions are ideal systems in which to test contemporary theories. There is still a lack of detailed knowledge of how the genetics of endophytes and their hosts alter interaction outcomes, especially in complex natural communities. Grass-endophyte symbioses offer tractable systems for addressing societal problems such as global environmental change, invasive species and emerging infectious diseases, restoration of degraded ecosystems, and food, fuel, and forage shortages.

Keywords:   agronomy, climate change, coevolution, cost-benefit analysis, emerging infectious disease, genotypes, invasive species, molecular ecology, plant reproduction

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