Effects of elevated ultraviolet radiation and endophytic fungi on plant growth and insect feeding in Lolium perenne, Festuca rubra, F. arundinacea and F. pratensis

A. R. McLeod, A. Rey, K. K. Newsham, Graham C. Lewis, Paul Wolferstan

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Plants of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), red fescue (Festuca rubra L.), tall fescue (F. arundinacea Schreb.) and meadow fescue (F. pratensis Huds) were exposed at an outdoor facility located in Edinburgh, UK to modulated levels of UV-B radiation (280–315 nm) using banks of cellulose diacetate filtered UV-B fluorescent lamps that also produce UV-A radiation (315–400 nm). The plants were derived from a single clone of each species and were grown both with and without colonization by naturally-occurring fungal endophytes. The UV-B treatment was a 30% elevation above the ambient erythemally-weighted level of UV-B during July to October. Growth of treated plants was compared with plants grown under elevated UV-A radiation alone produced by banks of polyester filtered lamps and with plants grown at ambient levels of solar radiation under banks of unenergized lamps. At the end of the treatment period, sample leaves were collected for feeding trials with the desert locust Schistocerca gregaria (Forsk). The UV-B treatment produced no effects on the aboveground biomass of any of the four grasses. The UV-B treatment and the UV-A control exposure both increased plant height and the number of daughter plants formed by rhizome growth in F. rubra. There were significant effects of endophyte presence on the total fresh and dry weights of F. arundinacea and F. rubra, on fresh weight only in F. pratensis, and on the fresh and dry weights of inflorescence in F. arundinacea and L. perenne. There were no effects of UV treatments on the absolute amounts of leaf consumed or on the feeding preferences of locusts for leaves with or without endophyte in three species: F. rubra, F. arundinacea and L. perenne. In F. pratensis there was no effect of UV treatment on the weight of leaves consumed but a significant UV×endophyte interaction caused by a marked change in feeding preference between leaves with and without endophyte that differed between the UV-B treatment and UV-A control exposures. The alkaloid compounds known as lolines were analysed in leaves of F. pratensis and were only found in plants grown with endophyte. However, there was no significant relationship between total loline content and insect feeding preference. These effects illustrate the potential complexities of species interactions under increasing levels of UV-B. The experiment also demonstrates the importance of appropriate controls in UV lamp supplementation experiments for interpretation of both plant growth and insect feeding effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-2
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2001


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