The maternally transmitted endophytic fungus Epichloe festucae did not decrease the genetic diversity of it host, the alpine grass Festuca eskia.
Several authors suggested that to maintain grass-fungal co-evolutionary compatibility, selection may favor fungal genotypes exhibiting mechanisms that decrease genetic diversity in host populations by increasing self-pollination (Meijer and Leuchtmann 2001; Saikkonen et al. 2004).
Here, we found no significant difference in genetic diversity between infected (E+) and non infected (E-) plant groups (see Fig 1) in the alpine grass Festuca eskia . The mean number of alleles per locus across all 4 loci was 4.5 for both E+ plants and E- plants. Observed heterozygosity (HO) and expected genetic diversity (HE) were respectively, 0.35 and 0.40 for the E+ plant group, and 0.40 and 0.46 for the E- plant group.
See the full paper in Gonzalo-Turpin et al (2010) in Conservation Genetics
Meijer G, Leuchtmann A (2001) Fungal genotype controls mutualism and sex in Brachypodium sylvaticum infected by Epichloe sylvatica. Acta Biol Hung 52:249–263. doi:10.1556/ABiol.52.2001.2-3.9
Saikkonen K, Wali P, Helander M et al (2004) Evolution of endophyte-plant symbioses. Trends Plant Sci 9:275–280. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2004.04.005