Generation of Epichloë Strains Expressing Fluorescent Proteins Suitable for Studying Host-Endophyte Interactions and Characterisation of a T-DNA Integration Event Academic Article uri icon


  • Methods for the identification and localisation of endophytic fungi are required to study the establishment, development, and progression of host-symbiont interactions, as visible reactions or disease symptoms are generally absent from host plants. Fluorescent proteins have proved valuable as reporter gene products, allowing non-invasive detection in living cells. This study reports the introduction of genes for two fluorescent proteins, green fluorescent protein (GFP) and red fluorescent protein, DsRed, into the genomes of two distinct perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.)-associated Epichloë endophyte strains using A. tumefaciens-mediated transformation. Comprehensive characterisation of reporter gene-containing endophyte strains was performed using molecular genetic, phenotypic, and bioinformatic tools. A combination of long read and short read sequencing of a selected transformant identified a single complex T-DNA insert of 35,530 bp containing multiple T-DNAs linked together. This approach allowed for comprehensive characterisation of T-DNA integration to single-base resolution, while revealing the unanticipated nature of T-DNA integration in the transformant analysed. These reporter gene endophyte strains were able to establish and maintain stable symbiotum with the host. In addition, the same endophyte strain labelled with two different fluorescent proteins were able to cohabit the same plant. This knowledge can be used to provide the basis to develop strategies to gain new insights into the host-endophyte interaction through independent and simultaneous monitoring in planta throughout its life cycle in greater detail.

publication date

  • 2019