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Fungal endophyte infection in an alpine meadow: testing the mutualism theory

  • Author / Creator
    Cardou, Françoise
  • Neotyphodium are fungal endosymbionts of grasses that reproduce asexually by infecting the host’s seed. This relationship has traditionally been considered mutualistic, with the fungus improving host fitness by alleviating important stresses. To determine the importance of biotic and abiotic stresses in mediating the endophyte-grass interaction, I investigated the relationship between grazing pressure by collared pikas and Neotyphodium sp. infection frequency in the grass Festuca altaica in an alpine meadow. I conducted a factorial design experiment combining endophyte infection, grazing history, fungicide and fertilizer. Leaf demography and herbivory damage were monitored every two weeks. In areas with chronic grazing history, infected plants were significantly less productive than uninfected tussocks, but there was no difference at low grazing history. There was no effect of infection on the likelihood of herbivory. Contrary to predictions of the mutualism theory, the Neotyphodium sp. / F. altaica symbiotum varied from parasitic to neutral across our gradient of interest.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2010-11
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3X33D
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Master's
  • Department
    • Department of Biological Sciences
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Hik, David S. (Biological Sciences)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Bork, Edward (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Sciences)
    • Currah, Randolph S. (Biological Sciences)
    • Vinebrooke, Rolf (Biological Sciences)