Christopher Schardl

Christopher Schardl

Christopher Schardl


217 Plant Science Building Lexington, KY 40546-0312

Last Revised: Jan 29th, 2024

Professional Biography




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

Recent Research Publications

(2016 to present; see Schardl Lab pages for a more complete list)


  • Kang Q, Schardl CL, Moore N, Yoshida R (2020) CURatio: Genome-wide phylogenomic analysis method using ratios of total branch lengths. IEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics. doi 10.1109/TCBB.2018.2878564


  • Berry D, Mace W, Grage K, Wesche F, Gore S, Schardl CL, Young CA, Dijkwel PP, Leuchtmann A, Bode HB, Scott B (2019) Efficient nonenzymatic cyclization and domain shuffling drive pyrrolopyrazine diversity from truncated variants of a fungal NRPS. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 116: 25614–25623. doi 10.1073/pnas.1913080116
  • Dinkins RD, Nagabhyru P, Young CA, West CP, Schardl CL (2019) Transcriptome analysis and differential expression in tall fescue harboring different endophyte strains in response to water deficit. Plant Genome 12: 2-180071. doi 10.3835/plantgenome2018.09.0071
  • Nagabhyru P, Dinkins RD, Schardl CL (2019) Transcriptomics of Epichloë-grass symbioses in host vegetative and reproductive stages. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions32: 194-207. doi 10.1094/MPMI-10-17-0251-R


  • Pan J, Bhardwaj M, Zhang B, Chang W-c, Schardl CL, Krebs C, Grossman RB, Bollinger JM, Jr. (2018) Installation of the ether bridge of lolines by the iron- and 2-oxoglutarate-dependent oxygenase, LolO: regio- and stereochemistry of sequential hydroxylation and oxacyclization reactions. Biochemistry 57: 2074-2083. doi 10.1021/acs.biochem.8b00157
  • Shi C, An S, Yao Z, Young CA, Panaccione DG, Lee ST, Schardl CL, Li C (2018) Epichloë bromicola strains symbiotic with the forage grass, Elymus dahuricus, in China. Mycologia 110: (in press). doi 10.1080/00275514.2018.1426941
  • Winter DJ, Ganley ARD, Young CA, Liachko I, Schardl CL, Dupont PY, Berry D, Ram A, Scott B, Cox MP (2018) Repeat elements organise 3D genome structure and mediate transcription in the filamentous fungus Epichloë festucae. PLoS Genetics 14: e1007467. doi 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007467


  • Cook D, Donzelli BGG, Creamer R, Baucom DL, Gardner DR, Pan J, Moore N, Krasnoff SB, Jaromczyk JW, Schardl CL (2017) Swainsonine biosynthesis genes in diverse symbiotic and pathogenic fungi. G3: Genes - Genomes - Genetics 7: 1791-1797. doi 10.1534/g3.117.041384
  • Dinkins RD, Nagabhyru P, Graham MA, Boykin D, Schardl CL (2017) Transcriptome response of Lolium arundinaceum to its fungal endophyte Epichloë coenophiala. New Phytologist 213: 324-337. doi 10.1111/nph.14103
  • Florea S, Panaccione DG, Schardl CL (2017) Ergot alkaloids of the family Clavicipitaceae. Phytopathology 107: 504-518. doi 10.1094/phyto-12-16-0435-rvw
  • Liu J, Nagabhyru P, Schardl CL (2017) Epichloë festucae endophytic growth in florets, seeds, and seedlings of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne). Mycologia 109: 691-700. doi 10.1080/00275514.2017.1400305
  • Shi C, An S, Yao Z, Young CA, Panaccione DG, Lee ST, Schardl CL, Li C (2017) Toxin-producing Epichloë bromicola strains symbiotic with the forage grass, Elymus dahuricus, in China. Mycologia 109: 847-859. doi 10.1080/00275514.2018.1426941


  • 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


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

Contact Information

201F Plant Science Building 1405 Veterans Drive Lexington, KY 40546-0312

(859) 257-7445