Exploring endophyte-mediated resistance response against winter cutworm, Noctua pronuba in cool-season turfgrass systems

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2023: $29,902.00
Projected End Date: 04/01/2025
Grant Recipient: Oregon State University
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Graduate Student:
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Navneet Kaur
Oregon State University
Principal Investigator:
Hannah Rivedal
USDA-ARS National Forage Seed and Cereal Research Unit


  • Agronomic: grass (misc. annual), grass (misc. perennial), grass (turfgrass, sod)


  • Crop Production: cropping systems, varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: decision support system, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, participatory research, workshop
  • Pest Management: cultural control, genetic resistance, integrated pest management
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems

    Proposal abstract:

    Exploring Epichloë endophytes is an exciting frontier for insect pest management in cool-season turfgrass systems in Oregon. In this study, we propose to evaluate endophyte-mediated resistance in commercial cultivars of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne), tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea), and fine fescue (Festuca rubra) against an economic insect pest Noctua pronuba (L.) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), or winter cutworm, a large yellow underwing moth. The research aims to measure Epichloë endophyte status and insect pest resistance response in commercial cultivars. We will conduct a series of laboratory experiments and then synthesize how these mutualistic associations can be utilized to develop more sustainable pest management practices. The supporting extension objectives will focus on education across the seed production supply chain to improve knowledge on the role of endophytes in sustainable grass seed production, how endophytes are identified and maintained over cropping seasons, and how production practices would need to change to adapt to endophyte-enhanced seed production. The information gained from this project will be used to guide future research efforts on the development of promising cultivar-endophyte relationships. Exploration of endophyte-mediated insect resistance in grass grown for seed crops will allow for more sustainable pest management strategies, with fewer synthetic insecticides, improved profitability due to lower input costs, and greater crop resilience, given the impacts of our changing climate. Together these factors will enhance ecological agricultural practices in seed crops, benefiting growers and potential end-users through enhanced plant protection benefits due to the endophyte-grass symbioses.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The research objectives of this study include the following:

    1. To assess winter cutworm survivorship and development time on previously identified cool-season turfgrass cultivars in Oregon State University’s NTEP and A-List trials containing a viable endophyte.
    2. To validate the endophyte-mediated resistance response of promising cultivars to winter cutworms by conducting a series of lab experiments whereby endophytic fungi are removed in known E+ (endophyte -positive) turfgrass cultivars and inoculated in E- (endophyte-negative) turfgrass cultivars.

    The educational objectives of this project will focus on the following:

    1. To identify potential marketing strategies for the incorporation of endophyte-positive turfgrass cultivars in grass seed and turfgrass systems.
    2. To conduct an educational workshop to increase the knowledge base within the seed industry regarding the role of beneficial endophytes in plant fitness, how to exploit these endophytes in insect pest management plans, and how to retain endophyte viability throughout the seed supply chain.



    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.