In Tunisia, late blight caused by Phytophthora infestans is a serious threat to potato and tomato. The Mediterranean weather conditions can be conducive to infection in all seasons and the host crops, tomato and potato, are grown year round. Potato is planted and harvested in two to four overlapping intervals from August to June and tomato is grown both in open fields and in greenhouses. The consequences of these agricultural practices and the massive import of seed potato on the genetic variation of P. infestans are largely unknown. We conducted a survey in which 165 P. infestans isolates, collected from five subregions in Tunisia between 2006 and 2008, on which we studied genotypic diversity through nuclear (simple-sequence repeat [SSR]) markers and combined this with a previous study on their mitochondrial haplotypes (mtDNA). The phylogenetic analysis revealed the presence of a major clonal lineage (NA-01, A1 mating type, mitochondrial haplotype Ia). Isolates belonging to this clonal lineage were found in all regions and showed a relatively simple virulence pattern on a potato differential set carrying different Solanum demissum resistance genes. Apart from isolates belonging to this NA-01 clonal lineage, a group of isolates was found that showed a high genetic diversity, comprising both mating types and a more complex race structure that was found in the regions where late blight on potato was more difficult to control. The population on potato and tomato seems to be under different selection pressures. Isolates collected from tomato showed a low genetic diversity even though potato isolates collected simultaneously from the same location showed a high genetic diversity. Based on the SSR profile comparison, we could demonstrate that the four major clonal lineages found in the Netherlands and also in other European countries could not be found in Tunisia. Despite the massive import of potato seed from Europe, the P. infestans population in Tunisia was found to be clearly distinct.
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