Wayne Simpson

Doctor of Philosophy
Study Completed: 2017
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
Hordeeae Epichloe endophytes and the formation of synthetic symbioses with cereal grasses

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Epichloë fungi live in symbiosis with grass plants and benefit their hosts through increased resistance to a wide range of stresses, including drought and insect damage. Whilst Epichloë are present in many wild grass species they are conspicuously absent from domesticated species, including important staple cereals such as wheat, barley and rye. Mr Simpson's research examined the possibility of infecting modern cereals with Epichloë using a diverse range of Epichloë strains collected in China. Inoculation studies demonstrated for the first time that domesticated cereals could be successfully infected with cultured Epichloë, with symbiosis outcomes ranging from fully compatible through to incompatible. Additionally, Mr Simpson showed that the genetics of the Epichloë and the host cereal underpins this compatibility and that Epichloë strain selection combined with host breeding could significantly improve the outcome of modern cereal-Epichloë associations.

Associate Professor James Millner
Dr Richard Johnson
Professor Warren Williams