Diversity of fungal endophytes associated with Rwandan Brachiaria ecotypes (Brachiaria spp)

Brachiaria species are important tropical forage grasses of East Africa origin. It is known to produce palatable and nutritious biomass for livestock, enhances nitrogen use efficiency, sequesters carbon and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Despite significant potential of this grass; no information available on endophytic fungal associated with Rwandan Brachiaria ecotypes which can have impacts on plant protection under extreme environment. This study identified and characterized the Brachiaria associated fungal endophytes from the stems and leaves of 36 Rwandan Brachiaria ecotypes collected from three agro- ecological zone of Rwanda in 2014. DNA was extracted from the pure isolated fungal using PrepMan Kit and PCR amplification using 2ITS. Fungal endophytes were characterized in vitro by conducting bio-chemical tests for Phosphate solubilization, Indole-3-Acetic Acid (IAA) production, antagonism test, pathogenicity test and siderophores. The numbers of fungal species identified were 21species isolated from stems and leaves of 36 local Brachiaria. The most frequent species were Epicoccum nigrum followed by Cladosporium cladosporioides and Coprinopsis atramentaria.30.1% of total isolate fungal were positive for IAA (Auxins) , 47.3 % of the total isolates fungal were not pathogen to the plant host ;10.1% were antagonistic to Nigrospora sphaerica , 8.3% to Phoma herbarum and 5% to the Aspergillus flavus; 49 % of isolates fungal were able to produce siderophore, No of the ffungal isolates specieswas be able to solubilize Phosphate compound. Results showed that Brachiaria with associated fungal are diverse and contain significant number of endophytes, which need to be explored/conserved and applied to others forage crops in Rwanda.