Influence of fungal endophyte infection on plant-soil feedback and community interactions

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Interactions between plants and soil affect plant-plant interactions and community composition. Festuca arundinacea (tall fescue) is often infected with the mutualistic fungal endophyte Neotyphodium coenophialum. Infected (E+) F. arundinacea has been reported to inhibit soil pathogens, nematodes, and mycorrhizal fungi, and to have greater mineral uptake from the soil relative to uninfected (E-) F. arundinacea. In addition, endophyte presence may indirectly influence the soil by altering the plant-plant interactions and the composition of communities. Recent studies have shown that local plant species diversity was reduced in experimental field plots with E+ F. arundinacea compared to plots with E- plants. Endophyte-induced changes, direct or indirect, in biotic or abiotic soil properties could therefore affect subsequent plant growth. We investigated soil-mediated effects of E+ F. arundinacea on E+ and E- F. arundinacea, Trifolium repens, and Plantago lanceolata by growing each in soil collected from the aforementioned field plots seeded with either E+ or E- F. arundinacea. Infection status of F. arundinacea plots had no direct effect on any measured characteristic of plants grown in soil from those plots. However, responses of experimental plants suggest that, by inducing changes in plant community composition, E+ F. arundinacea may indirectly affect the soil. Most notable was an increase in E+ F. arundinacea total biomass when grown in soil previously dominated by Poa pratensis and other grass species compared to biomass when grown in soil previously dominated by E+ F. arundinacea, indicative of an indirect negative feedback on E+ F. arundinacea growth. In addition, Plantago and Trifolium root biomass was significantly higher when grown in soil that previously supported a high proportion of P. pratensis relative to other plant species. Such plant-soil dynamics may have important community-level implications in areas dominated by F. arundinacea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-509
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001


  • Community structure
  • Endophyte
  • Festuca arundinacea
  • Negative feedback
  • Neotyphodium coenophialum
  • Plant-soil interaction
  • Plantago lanceolata
  • Poa pratensis
  • Soil community
  • Trifolium repens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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