Expression of a novel chitinase by the fungal endophyte in Poa ampla

Huaijun Michael Li, Ray Sullivan, Melinda Moy, Donald Y. Kobayashi, Faith C. Belanger

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31 Scopus citations


Many wild and cultivated cool-season grass species are naturally infected with fungal endophytes of the genera Neotyphodium and Epichloë. These associations generally are considered mutualistic with the plants benefiting from reduced herbivory and the fungi benefiting from nutrients supplied by the plants. The fungi secrete proteins that might have a role in the interspecies symbiosis. In the interaction between Poa ampla Merr. and the endophyte Neotyphodium sp., a fungal chitinase was detected in the apoplastic protein fraction. The chitinase was also the major protein secreted in culture. Sequence analysis of the chitinase revealed it has a low level of amino acid sequence identity to other fungal chitinases and one of the conserved active site residues is altered. DNA gel-blot analysis indicated the chitinase was encoded by a single gene. Expression of similar chitinases also was detected in endophyte-infected tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.), perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) and Chewings fescue (Festuca rubra L. subsp. fallax [Thuill] Nyman). This is the first report of an endophyte chitinase expressed in the infected host grass. As a secreted hydrolytic enzyme, the chitinase might have roles in the nutrition, growth or defense of the endophyte.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)526-536
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


  • Epichloë
  • Mutualistic symbiosis
  • Neotyphodium


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