Better endophytes = improved pasture performance and greater persistence

Through the Dairy Futures CRC’s Novel endophyte program, researchers are identifying improved endophytes for use with commercial ryegrass and tall fescue cultivars.

“The recent discovery of the significant role that endophytes can play in the performance of pasture grasses and, in particular, their persistence has opened the door to significant opportunities. New DNA-based methods of identifying superior endophytes and the ability to ensure they are consistently inoculated into commercial cultivars will lead to major steps forward in pasture productivity while ensuring maximum livestock safety.”

Kathryn Guthridge
Research leader

Novel endophytes — program aims

Fungal endophytes protect key grass pasture species, including perennial ryegrass and tall fescue, against attack from insect pests — making them significantly better able to tolerate external stresses such as disease and drought. This protection ultimately leads to greater productivity. However these same endophytes can be toxic to grazing livestock (for example, causing ryegrass staggers). Through the Novel endophytes program, Dairy Futures CRC researchers will:

  • Use genetic marker technology to identify superior lines of novel endophytes with increased grazing safety.
  • Improve vigour, production and persistence of tall fescue and perennial ryegrass.
  • Improve pest and disease resistance of grass pastures and reduce the associated pasture management costs.

Collaborative approach

The Novel endophytes program capitalises on existing relationships between geneticists, molecular plant breeders and commercial plant breeders, and agronomists to deliver innovative pasture options for Australia’s dairy farmers. Organisations that are involved in this program include:


Program contact

Professor John Forster
Research leader