AVANEX® Unique Endophyte Technology is currently available in one perennial ryegrass turf cultivar and one tall fescue turf cultivar. The grasses have been bred with special novel endophytes that produce high levels of alkaloids that provide them with a level of resistance to insect feeding. Both turfgrass species produce high levels of ergovaline a chemical known to be a feeding deterrent. Both also produce peramine a well-known insecticidal compound with a small target pest range, but with no known mammalian toxicity. The fescue version also produces loline which is a well-known broadly insecticidal compound with no known mammalian toxicity.
The protection afforded by these alkaloids results in turfgrasses that are hardier than usual against drought and other abiotic stresses and results in better persistence of the turfgrasses when faced with moderate seasonal drought. Another consequence of the high alkaloid production is fewer insects which may result in fewer insectivorous birds such as starlings. When turfgrass with AVANEX® is eaten by herbivorous birds such as Canada geese they feel unwell and associate the AVANEX® grass with that bad experience, so they feed elsewhere, provided they have the choice. It also appears that AVANEX® unique endophyte technology turfgrass also affects small animals like rabbits which eat the grass, and as a result do not continue to feed on the AVANEX®, leading to less damage.