Christopher Schardl
Phone (859) 218-0730
Fax (859) 323-1961
Schardl Lab

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

Professional Profile

Professor & Department Chair



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


  • Ph.D. in Biochemistry, 1983, University of California-Davis
  • B.S. in Biochemistry, 1978, Cornell University

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

2012 to present (see also Schardl Lab pages for a more complete list)

  • Dinkins RD, Nagabhyru P, Graham MA, Boykin D, Schardl CL (2016) Transcriptome response of Lolium arundinaceum to its fungal endophyte Epichloë coenophiala. New Phytologist. doi 10.1111/nph.14103
  •  Florea S, Phillips TD, Panaccione DG, Farman ML, Schardl CL (2016) Chromosome-end knockoff strategy to reshape alkaloid profiles of a fungal endophyte. G3: Genes - Genomes - Genetics 6: 2601-2610. doi 10.1534/g3.116.029686
  • Florea S, Schardl CL, Hollin W (2015) Detection and isolation of Epichloë species, fungal endophytes of grasses. Current Protocols in Microbiology 38: 19A.11.11-19A.11.24. doi 10.1002/9780471729259.mc19a01s38
  • Young CA, Schardl CL, Panaccione DG, Florea S, Takach JE, Charlton ND, Moore N, Webb JS, Jaromczyk J (2015) Genetics, genomics and evolution of ergot alkaloid diversity. Toxins (Basel) 7: 1273-1302. doi 10.3390/toxins7041273
  • Chen L, Li XZ, Li CJ, Swoboda GA, Young CA, Sugawara K, Leuchtmann A, Schardl CL (2015) Two distinctEpichloë 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