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Concept: Festuca arundinacea


Plant contamination by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is crucial to food safety and human health. Enzyme inhibitors are commonly utilized in agriculture to control plant metabolism of organic components. This study revealed that the enzyme inhibitor ascorbic acid (AA) significantly reduced the activities of peroxidase (POD) and polyphenol oxidase (PPO), thus enhancing the potential risks of PAH contamination in tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.). POD and PPO enzymes in vitro effectively decomposed naphthalene (NAP), phenanthrene (PHE) and anthracene (ANT). The presence of AA reduced POD and PPO activities in plants, and thus was likely responsible for enhanced PAH accumulation in tall fescue. This conclusion is supported by the significantly enhanced uptake of PHE in plants in the presence of AA, and the positive correlation between enzyme inhibition efficiencies and the rates of metabolism of PHE in tall fescue roots. This study provides a new perspective, that the common application of enzyme inhibitors in agricultural production could increase the accumulation of organic contaminants in plants, hence enhancing risks to food safety and quality.

Concepts: Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme, Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Enzyme inhibitor, Enzymes, Festuca arundinacea


In germinating seeds under unfavorable environmental conditions, the mobilization of stores in the cotyledons is delayed, which may result in a different modulation of carbohydrates balance and a decrease in seedling vigor. Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) caryopses grown at 4°C in the dark for an extended period in complete absence of nutrients, showed an unexpected ability to survive. Seedlings grown at 4°C for 210 days were morphologically identical to seedlings grown at 23°C for 21 days. After 400 days, seedlings grown at 4°C were able to differentiate plastids to chloroplast in just few days once transferred to the light and 23°C. Tall fescue exposed to prolonged period at 4°C showed marked anatomical changes: cell wall thickening, undifferentiated plastids, more root hairs and less xylem lignification. Physiological modifications were also observed, in particular related to sugar content, GA and ABA levels and amylolytic enzymes pattern. The phytohormones profiles exhibited at 4 and 23°C were comparable when normalized to the respective physiological states. Both the onset and the completion of germination were linked to GA and ABA levels, as well as to the ratio between these two hormones. All plants showed a sharp decline in carbohydrate content, with a consequent onset of gradual sugar starvation. This explained the slowed then full arrest in growth under both treatment regimes. The analysis of amylolytic activity showed that Ca2+ played a central role in the stabilization of several isoforms. Overall, convergence of starvation and hormone signals meet in crosstalk to regulate germination, growth and development in tall fescue.

Concepts: Plant, Seed, Plant morphology, Germination, Seedling, Radicle, Festuca arundinacea, Festuca


Substitution of a species or cultivar with higher uptake of an element by one with lower uptake has been proposed as a remediation strategy following accidental releases of radioactivity. However, despite the importance of pasture systems for radiological dose, species/cultivar substitution has not been thoroughly investigated for forage grasses. 397 cultivars from four forage grass species; hybrid ryegrass (Lolium perenne L. x Lolium multiflorum Lam.), perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.) and tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Shreb.); were sampled from 19 field-based breeding experiments in Aberystwyth and Edinburgh (UK) in spring 2013 and analysed for caesium (Cs) and strontium (Sr) concentrations. In order to calculate concentration ratios (CRs; the concentration of an element in a plant in relation to the concentration in the soil), soils from the experiments were also analysed to calculate extractable concentrations of Cs and Sr. To test if cultivars have consistently low Cs and Sr concentration ratios, 17 hybrid ryegrass cultivars were sampled from both sites again in summer 2013 and spring and summer 2014. Tall fescue cultivars had lower Cs and Sr CRs than the other species. Three of the selected 17 hybrid ryegrass cultivars had consistently low Cs CRs, two had consistently low Sr CRs and one had consistently low Cs and Sr CRs. Cultivar substitution could reduce Cs CRs by up to 14-fold and Sr CRs by 4-fold in hybrid ryegrass. The identification of species and cultivars with consistently low CRs suggests that species or cultivar substitution could be an effective remediation strategy for contaminated areas.

Concepts: Poaceae, Pooideae, Hay, Festuca arundinacea, Ryegrass, Forage, Lolium multiflorum, Festuca


Previous research has demonstrated that exposure to ergot alkaloids reduces vasoactivity of serotonin (5HT) receptors. Chemical suppression of tall fescue seedhead production is a tool to reduce the level of exposure to ergot alkaloids by a grazing animal. Therefore, the objective was to evaluate contractility of lateral saphenous veins biopsied from mixed breed steers following a 87- to 101-d grazing period on 3-ha pastures of bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon; n = 5 steers; BW = 340 ±9 kg), or toxic endophyte-infected tall fescue (Lolium arundinaceum) that was not treated (n = 5 steers; BW = 300 ±6; 0.56 ppm ergovaline) or was treated (n=5 steers; BW = 294 ±9 kg; 0.24 ppm ergovaline) with herbicide containing aminopyralid and metsulfuron-methyl. To evaluate contractility, biopsied veins were mounted in a multimyograph and exposed to increasing concentrations of a tall fescue seed extract (EXT; ergovaline source); and 5HT1B (CP 93129), 5HT1D (L-694,247), and 5HT2A (TCB2) agonists. All contractility data were normalized to a maximal response of 1 × 10-4M norepinephrine and were analyzed as a split plot treatment design using SAS for effects of pasture treatment, agonist concentration, and the interaction. There was no contractile response to any concentration of 5HT1B agonist in any of the pasture treatments. There were pasture × concentration interactions for contractile responses to 5HT2A agonist (P < 0.01) and EXT (P < 0.01). For both EXT and TCB2, veins from bermudagrass steers were more vasoactive to the higher concentrations of these compounds (P < 0.05), and there were no differences between veins collected from the unsuppressed or seedhead suppressed treatments (P = 0.66). There was also a pasture × concentration interaction for the contractile responses to 5HT1D agonist (P < 0.01). However, these responses were not sigmoidal and reached a zenith at 5 × 10-7 and 1 × 10-6M. At these concentrations, the response was greatest for veins from the unsuppressed treatment (P < 0.05) and did not differ between veins from suppressed and bermudagrass treatments (P = 0.41). Although reduced levels of ergovaline in seedhead suppressed pastures did not alter vasoactivity of 5HT2A or 5HT1B receptors in the lateral saphenous vein, elevated vasoactivity of 5HT1D in veins from unsuppressed tall fescue pasture treatment suggests that lower ergovaline levels in seedhead suppressed pastures can influence the vascular effects of ergot alkaloids.

Concepts: Serotonin, Pasture, Great saphenous vein, 5-HT receptor, Festuca arundinacea, Ergotamine, Cynodon dactylon, Cynodon


The objective of this study was to quantitatively summarize literature reporting endophyte-infected (Neotyphodium coenophialum) tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) effects on cattle ADG. This meta-analysis evaluated endophyte infection level, climate, and forage yield using a literature dataset of 138 treatments from 20 articles. Three infection level measurements were tested: endophyte infection as a percentage of infected tillers (E%); ergovaline concentration in ppb ([E]); and total ergot alkaloid concentration ([TEA]). Three types of climate variables were used: base values (temperature, humidity, and relative humidity), climate indices (heat index and temperature-heat index (THI)), and novel climate variables accounting for duration of climate effects. Mixed effect models, weighted by 1/SEM, including a random effect of study were built for each factorial combination of measurement method and climate variable group. Because many studies were missing SEM, two datasets were used: one containing only data with SEM reported and one that also included missing-SEM data. For the complete-SEM dataset (CSD), models were weighted by 1/SEM. In the missing-SEM dataset (MSD) the mean reported 1/SEM was assigned as the weight for all missing SEM treatments. Although 18 initial models were created (2x3x3 factorial approach), the backward stepwise derivation resulted in models that included only endophyte infection level, suggesting a negative relationship between infection level and ADG. The CSD models predicted ADG to decrease 39 and 33 g/d with each increase of 100 ppb of [TEA] and [E], and by 39 g/d for each increase of 10% E%. In the MSD dataset, predicted ADG decreased by 39 and 33 g/d with each increase of 100 ppb of [TEA] and [E], and by 47 g/d for each increase of 10% E%. All relationships reported had P<0.05. After visual inspection of the data, piecewise regression was used to identify an infection threshold (IT) of 60 ppb [E] and 11 E%, where the effect of infection level was constant on either side of the IT. The ADG was 40% and 49% greater for infection levels below the IT for [E] and E%, respectively. Across THI values in the analysis, ADG decreases ranged from 11.2 to 45.0% for cattle grazing endophyte-infected tall fescue compared to non-ergot alkaloid endophyte infected tall fescue. Pasture E%, [E], and [TEA] have a negative relationship with ADG in growing cattle, and increasing temperature decreases ADG when infection level is greater than the IT.

Concepts: Climate, Humidity, Relative humidity, Dew point, Ergot, Festuca arundinacea, Forage, Festuca


The goal of this study was to test the hypothesis that sodium selenite (ISe), SEL-PLEX (OSe), vs a 1:1 blend (MIX) of ISe and OSe in a basal vitamin-mineral (VM) mix would differentially affect metabolic parameters and performance of growing steers grazing toxic endophyte-infected tall fescue mixed forage (E+) pasture. Predominately-Angus steers (BW = 183 ± 34 kg) were randomly selected from herds of fall-calving cows grazing E+ pasture and consuming VM mixes that contained 35 ppm Se as ISe, OSe, and MIX forms. Steers were weaned, depleted of Se for 98 d, and subjected to summer-long common grazing of an E+ pasture (0.51 ppm total ergovaline/ergovalinine; 10.1 ha). Steers were assigned (n = 8/treatment) to the same Se-form treatments upon which they were raised. Selenium treatments were administered by daily top-dressing 85 g of VM mix onto 0.23 kg soyhulls, using in-pasture Calan gates. The PROC MIXED procedure of SAS was used to assess effect of Se form treatments on whole blood Se (ng/mL) and serum prolactin (ng/mL) at d 0, 22, 43, 64, and 86, and caudal arterial area (mm 2) at d -7, 43, and 86. The effect of Se treatment on ADG (d 86), and liver glutamine synthetase (GS) mRNA, protein, and activity (nmol∙mg-1 wet tissue∙min-1) were assessed using the PROC GLM procedure of SAS. Fisher’s protected LSD procedure was used to separate treatment means. Whole blood Se increased (P < 0.01) for all treatments from d 0 to 22 and then did not change (P ≥ 0.17), and was greater (P ≤ 0.04) for MIX and OSe steers. Serum prolactin decreased (P < 0.01) over time and was greater (P < 0.05) for MIX and OSe steers. Liver GS mRNA content was 66% and 59% greater (P < 0.05) in MIX and OSe steers, respectively, than ISe steers. Liver GS protein content in MIX steers was 94% more (P < 0.01) than ISe steers. Moreover, MIX and OSe steers had 99% and 55% more (P ≤ 0.01) liver GS activity, respectively, than ISe steers. ADG was not affected (P = 0.36) by Se treatments. We conclude that consumption of 3 mg Se/d as OSe or MIX forms of Se in VM mixes increased (a) whole blood Se content, an indicator of greater whole-body Se assimilation; (b) serum prolactin, the reduction of which is a hallmark of fescue toxicosis; and (c) hepatic GS activity, indicating greater hepatic assimilation of acinar ammonia. However, (d) these positive effects on metabolic parameters were not accompanied by growth performance.

Concepts: Protein, Blood, Prolactin, Liver, Glycogen, Selenium, Blood plasma, Festuca arundinacea


Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) is an important cool-season perennial grass species used as forage and turf, and in conservation plantings. There are three morphotypes in hexaploid tall fescue: Continental, Mediterranean and Rhizomatous. This study was conducted to develop morphotype-specific molecular markers to distinguish Continental and Mediterranean tall fescues, and establish their relationships with other species of the Festuca genus for genomic inference. Chloroplast sequence variation and simple sequence repeat (SSR) polymorphism were explored in 12 genotypes of three tall fescue morphotypes and four Festuca species. Hypervariable chloroplast regions were retrieved by using 33 specifically designed primers followed by sequencing the PCR products. SSR polymorphism was studied using 144 tall fescue SSR primers. Four chloroplast (NFTCHL17, NFTCHL43, NFTCHL45 and NFTCHL48) and three SSR (nffa090, nffa204 and nffa338) markers were identified which can distinctly differentiate Continental and Mediterranean morphotypes. A primer pair, NFTCHL45, amplified a 47 bp deletion between the two morphotypes is being routinely used in the Noble Research Institute’s core facility for morphotype discrimination. Both chloroplast sequence variation and SSR diversity showed a close association between Rhizomatous and Continental morphotypes, while the Mediterranean morphotype was in a distant clade. F. pratensis and F. arundinacea var. glaucescens, the P and G1G2 genome donors, respectively, were grouped with the Continental clade, and F. mairei (M1M2 genome) grouped with the Mediterranean clade in chloroplast sequence variation, while both F. pratensis and F. mairei formed independent clade in SSR analysis. Age estimation based on chloroplast sequence variation indicated that the Continental and Mediterranean clades might have been colonized independently during 0.65 ± 0.06 and 0.96 ± 0.1 million years ago (Mya) respectively. The findings of the study will enhance tall fescue breeding for persistence and productivity.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Plant, Poaceae, Festuca arundinacea, Forage, Julian Huxley, Festuca


Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb) is a turf grass species which is widely used for rhizoremediation of organic contaminants and shows notable prospects in heavy metal phytoremediation. In this study, different concentrations of cadmium ion (Cd(2+)) were applied to study toxic effects of Cd(2+) and responses of tall fescue by soilless culture. Tall fescue showed comparable high tolerance to Cd(2+) as Indian mustard (Brassica juncea L.). Additionally, the treatment with high concentration of Cd(2+) leaded to decreased chlorophyll contents, production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and lipid peroxidation, as well as damage of cell membrane, necrosis and apoptosis in tall fescue roots, and toxicity of Cd(2+) on physiologic properties of tall fescue has been well discussed. Moreover, in photosystem II electron donor side, electron transport from oxygen evolution complex (OEC) to Yz residue of D1 protein was inhibited under high Cd(2+) treatments, which may be due to the Cd(2+) induced ROS production and the replacement of Ca(2+) in the core of OEC. In electron acceptor side, electron transport efficiency from quinone B to photosystem I acceptors increased under high Cd(2+) treatments, which may be an important response for plants against Cd(2+) toxicity and its mechanism needs our further study.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Oxygen, Reactive oxygen species, Toxicology, Photosystem, Electron acceptor, Brassica juncea, Festuca arundinacea


A feature of cell wall arabinoxylan in grasses is the presence of ferulic acid which upon oxidative coupling by the action of peroxidases forms diferuloyl bridges between formerly separated arabinoxylans. Ferulate cross-linking is suspected of playing various roles in different plant processes. Here we investigate the role of cell wall feruloyaltion in two major processes, that of leaf growth and the turnover of cell wall arabinoxylans on leaf senescence in tall fescue using plants in which the level of cell wall ferulates has been reduced by targeted expression of the Aspergillus niger ferulic acid esterase A (FAEA) to the apoplast or Golgi. Analysis of FAE expressing plants showed that all the lines had shorter and narrower leaves compared to control, which may be a consequence of the overall growth rate being lower and occurring earlier in FAE expressing leaves than in controls. Furthermore, the final length of epidermal cells was shorter than controls, indicating that their expansion was curtailed earlier than in control leaves. This may be due to the observations that the deposition of both ether and ester linked monomeric hydroxycinnamic acids and ferulate dimerization stopped earlier in FAE expressing leaves but at a lower level than controls, and hydroxycinnamic acid deposition started to slow down when peroxidase levels increased. It would appear therefore that one of the possible mechanisms for controlling overall leaf morphology such as leaf length and width in grasses, where leaf morphology is highly variable between species, may be the timing of hydroxycinnamic acid deposition in the expanding cell walls as they emerge from cell division into the elongation zone, controlled partially by the onset of peroxidase activity in this region.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Cell, Acid, Plant, Cell wall, Plant morphology, Festuca arundinacea, Festuca


Abscisic acid (ABA) is known to play roles in regulating plant tolerance to various abiotic stresses, but whether ABA’s effects on heat tolerance are associated with its regulation of heat stress transcription factors (HSFs) and heat shock proteins (HSPs) is not well documented. The objective of this study was to determine whether improved heat tolerance of tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) by ABA was through the regulation of HSFs and HSPs. ABA-responsive transcriptional factors, ABA-responsive element binding protein 3 (FaAREB3) and dehydration-responsive element binding protein 2A (FaDREB2A) of tall fescue, were able to bind to the cis-elements in the promoter of tall fescue heat stress transcription factor A2c (FaHSFA2c). Exogenous ABA (5 μM) application enhanced heat tolerance of tall fescue, as manifested by increased leaf photochemical efficiency and membrane stability under heat stress (37/32 °C, day/night). The expression levels of FaHSFA2c, several tall fescue HSPs (FaHSPs), and ABA-responsive transcriptional factors were up-regulated in plants treated with ABA. Deficiency of Arabidopsis heat stress transcription factor A2 (AtHSFA2) suppressed ABA-induction of AtHSPs expression and ABA-improved heat tolerance in Arabidopsis. These results suggested that HSFA2 plays an important role in ABA-mediated plant heat tolerance, and FaAREB3 and FaDREB2A may function as upstream trans-acting factors and regulate transcriptional activity of FaHSFA2c and the downstream FaHSPs, leading to improved heat tolerance.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Gene expression, Transcription, Molecular biology, Transcription factor, RNA polymerase, Festuca arundinacea