University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

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Christopher L. Schardl

Christopher L. Schardl, Ph.D.
Professor and Department Chair

Department of Plant Pathology
University of Kentucky
201C Plant Science Building
Lexington, KY 40546-0312

telephone: (859) 218-0730
fax: (859) 323-1961

Schardl Lab

Education Ph.D. in Biochemistry, 1983, University of California-Davis
B.S. in Biochemistry, 1978, Cornell University
Focus Research
The Schardl lab focuses on heritable mutualistic symbioses between plants and seed-borne fungal symbionts (endophytes). The fungi protect plants from insects, drought and other stresses. We have discovered genes for synthesis of protective alkaloids including ergot alkaloids used in numerous pharmaceuticals, and the broadly anti-insect loline and pyrrolizidine alkaloids. To understand the evolution of the endophytes and their alkaloid genes, we have identified and described dozens of endophyte species and sequenced dozens of genomes and transcriptomes. We are also using this information to understand the basis for host-endophyte compatibility and vertical (seed) transmissibility that are crucial for maintaining mutualistically beneficial symbioses.

  • PPA 670: Plant Bacteriology



Employment Highlights
  • Professor, University of Kentucky, 1997-present
  • Associate Professor, University of Kentucky, 1992-1997
  • Assistant Professor, University of Kentucky, 1985-1992
  • Postdoctoral Scholar, Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge, England, 1983-1985



Awards, Recognition, Service
  • Fellow, American Phytopathological Society
  • Fellow, Mycological Society of America
  • University of Kentucky President’s Award for Diversity
  • Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels
  • Harry E. Wheeler Chair in Plant Mycology
  • Gamma Sigma Delta George Mitchell, Jr. Award for Outstanding Service to Graduate Students, University of Kentucky
  • Thomas Poe Cooper Award for Research in Agriculture, University of Kentucky
  • Gamma Sigma Delta
  • Sigma Xi
Editorial Boards Mycologia
Selected Publications
  • Chen L, Li XZ, Li CJ, Swoboda GA, Young CA, Sugawara K, Leuchtmann A, Schardl CL (2015) Two distinct Epichloë species symbiotic with Achnatherum inebrians, drunken horse grass. Mycologia (in press). doi 10.3852/15-019
  • Berry D, Takach JE, Schardl CL, Charlton ND, Scott B, Young CA (2015) Disparate independent genetic events disrupt the secondary metabolism gene perA in certain symbiotic Epichloë species. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 81: 2797-2807. doi 10.1128/AEM.03721-14
  • Pan J, Bhardwaj M, Nagabhyru P, Grossman RB, Schardl CL (2014) Enzymes from fungal and plant origin required for chemical diversification of insecticidal loline alkaloids in grass-Epichloë symbiota. PLoS ONE 9: e115590. doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0115590
  • Schardl CL, Chen L, Young CA (2014) Fungal endophytes of grasses and morning glories, and their bioprotective alkaloids. In A Osbourn, RJ Goss, GT Carter, eds, Natural products: discourse, diversity, and design, Ed First. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey, pp 125-145
  • Bec S, Liu J, Schardl C (2013) Molecular and genetic basis guiding the establishment of a mutualistic relationship between Epichloë festucae and perennial ryegrass. Phytopathology 103: 13-13. 
  • Iannone LJ, Mc Cargo PD, Giussani LM, Schardl CL (2013) Geographic distribution patterns of vertically transmitted endophytes in two native grasses in Argentina. Symbiosis 59: 99-110. Doi 10.1007/s13199-012-0214-y
  • Schardl CL, Young CA, Pan J, Florea S, Takach JE, Panaccione DG, Farman ML, Webb JS, Jaromczyk J, Charlton ND, Nagabhyru P, Chen L, Shi C, Leuchtmann A (2013) Currencies of mutualisms: sources of alkaloid genes in vertically transmitted epichloae. Toxins 5: 1064-1088. doi 10.3390/toxins5061064
  • Schardl CL, Young CA, Moore N, Krom N, Dupont P-Y, Pan J, Florea S, Webb JS, Jaromczyk J, Jaromczyk JW, Cox MP, Farman ML (2014) Genomes of plant-associated Clavicipitaceae. Advances in Botanical Research 70: 291-327. doi
  • Leuchtmann A, Bacon CW, Schardl CL, White JF, Tadych M (2014) Nomenclatural realignment of Neotyphodium species with genus Epichloë. Mycologia 106: 202-215. doi 10.3852/106.2.202
  • Mc Cargo PD, Iannone LJ, Vignale MV, Schardl CL, Rossi MS (2014) Species diversity of Epichloë symbiotic with two grasses from southern Argentinean Patagonia. Mycologia 106: 339-352. doi 10.3852/106.2.339
  • Pan J, Bhardwaj M, Faulkner JR, Nagabhyru P, Charlton ND, Higashi RM, Miller A-F, Young CA, Grossman RB, Schardl CL (2014) Ether bridge formation in loline alkaloid biosynthesis. Phytochemistry 98: 60-68. doi 10.1016/j.phytochem.2013.11.015
  • Weyenberg G, Huggins PM, Schardl CL, Howe DK, Yoshida R (2014) kdetrees: Nonparametric estimation of phylogenetic tree distributions. Bioinformatics. doi 10.1093/bioinformatics/btu258
  • Schardl CL, Young CA, Hesse U, Amyotte SG, Andreeva K, Calie PJ, Fleetwood DJ, Haws DC, Moore N, Oeser B, Panaccione DG, Schweri KK, Voisey CR, Farman ML, Jaromczyk JW, Roe BA, O'Sullivan DM, Scott B, Tudzynski P, An Z, Arnaoudova EG, Bullock CT, Charlton ND, Chen L, Cox M, Dinkins RD, Florea S, Glenn AE, Gordon A, Güldener U, Harris DR, Hollin W, Jaromczyk J, Johnson RD, Khan AK, Leistner E, Leuchtmann A, Li C, Liu J, Liu J, Liu M, Mace W, Machado C, Nagabhyru P, Pan J, Schmid J, Sugawara K, Steiner U, Takach J, Tanaka E, Webb JS, Wilson EV, Wiseman JL, Yoshida R, Zeng Z (2013) Plant-symbiotic fungi as chemical engineers: multi-genome analysis of the Clavicipitaceae reveals dynamics of alkaloid loci. PLoS Genetics 9: e1003323. doi. 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003323.
  • Schardl CL, Florea S, Pan J, Nagabhyru P, Bec S, Calie PJ (2013) The epichloae: alkaloid diversity and roles in symbiosis with grasses. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 16: 480-488. doi 10.1016/j.pbi.2013.06.012.
  • Nagabhyru P, Dinkins RD, Wood CL, Bacon CW, Schardl CL (2013) Tall fescue endophyte effects on tolerance to water-deficit stress. BMC Plant Biology 13: 127. doi 10.1186/1471-2229-13-127.
  • Florea S, Machado C, Andreeva K, Schardl CL (2012) The Cre/lox system: a practical tool to efficiently eliminate selectable markers in fungal endophytes. Methods in Molecular Biology 824: 371-379. doi 10.1007/978-1-61779-433-9_19.
  • Zhang D-X, Nagabhyru P, Schardl CL (2009) Regulation of a chemical defense against herbivory produced by symbiotic fungi in grass plants. Plant Physiology 150: 1072-1082. doi 10.1104/pp.109.138222.
  • Schardl CL, Craven KD, Speakman S, Stromberg A, Lindstrom A, Yoshida R (2008) A novel test for host-symbiont codivergence indicates ancient origin of fungal endophytes in grasses. Systematic Biology 57: 483-498. doi 10.1080/10635150802172184.
  • Schardl CL, Grossman RB, Nagabhyru P, Faulkner JR, Mallik UP (2007) Loline alkaloids: currencies of mutualism. Phytochemistry 68: 980-996. doi 10.1016/j.phytochem.2007.01.010.
  • Schardl CL, Panaccione DG, Tudzynski P (2006) Ergot alkaloids--biology and molecular biology. Alkaloids: Chemistry and Biology 63: 45-86. doi 10.1016/S1099-4831(06)63002-2.
  • Faulkner JR, Hussaini SR, Blankenship JD, Pal S, Branan BM, Grossman RB, Schardl CL (2006) On the sequence of bond. formation in loline alkaloid biosynthesis. Chembiochem 7: 1078-1088.


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