Fusicladium effusum causes pecan scab, which is the most destructive disease of pecan orchards in the United States. Conidia of the pathogen are spread by rain splash and wind. The fungus is pathogenically diverse; yet there is no information on its genetic diversity or population genetics. Universally primed polymerase chain reaction (UP-PCR) was used to investigate the genetic diversity and population structure on a hierarchical sample of 194 isolates collected from 11 orchard locations from Florida to Texas, consisting of three to four isolates from each of five to six trees at each location. Genetic variation was high throughout the region, with all but nine of the multilocus haplotypes being unique. Nei's average gene diversity ranged from 0.083 for a population from Mississippi to 0.160 for a population from Kansas. An analysis of molecular variance of the hierarchically sampled populations found that the majority of the genetic variability (82.6%) occurred at the scale of the individual tree and only relatively small amounts among populations in trees from an orchard (5.0%) or within groups (i.e., orchard location populations) (12.5%). The results suggest little population differentiation in F. effusum in the southeastern United States, although φpt values of genetic distance for pairwise comparisons indicated some populations could be differentiated from others. There was evidence of linkage disequilibrium in certain populations, and the common occurrence of asexual reproduction in F. effusum could lead to measurable linkage disequilibrium under certain circumstances. However, the degree of genetic diversity and the scale over which diversity is distributed is evidence that F. effusum undergoes regular recombination despite no known sexual stage.
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