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Abstract

Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.), the most important pasture grass in Arkansas, exhibits different agricultural properties when it is infected by its mutualistic endophyte Acremonium coenophialum Morgan-Jones and Gams. We postulate that the presence of endophyte exerts a stress on the host that enhances or detracts from the host's ability to express specific genes. We tested this hypothesis by heat stressing infected and non-infected, juvenile and mature tall fescue, and examining their protein profiles by SDS-PAGE analysis. The results indicate that mature, infected, stressed grass produced greater amounts of Rubisco (ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase) than all other treatments. Additionally, the mature, infected, stressed grass exhibited a 20 k Dalton protein band which was not apparent in other treatments. These observations support the possibility that the endophyte prestresses the grass, and they suggest a molecular mechanism for this response.

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