The common endophytes of grasses are fungi that exist symbiotically within grass plants, living between cell walls of the plants. The endophytes produce compounds called alkaloids which can provide the host plant with varying degrees of protection from insect attack.
However, some of these alkaloids can have negative effects on grazing animals, such as grass staggers, heat stress and reduced livestock performance.
The naturally occurring endophyte is called the standard endophyte, feral or wild type endophyte.
Over recent years, scientists have developed a range of ‘novel’ endophytes in an effort to minimize the negative effects on livestock. These endophytes include AR1, AR37, Endo5, NEA2 and MaxP.
The plant protection against insect pests, and animal safety of these endophytes varies between endophytes and is dependent on the host plant.