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Brn1 as a novel barcode for culture-independent identification of Bipolaris species

Brett Lane: Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida

<div>The genus <em>Bipolaris</em> is found worldwide and consists of many plant pathogenic species. Members of this genus cause leaf spots, leaf blights, melting out, root rots, and other diseases. <em>Bipolaris</em> spp. are of particular concern on gramineous crop hosts where they can result in significant economic impacts. <em>Microstegium vimineum</em> is a weedy annual grass that has invaded many temperate forests in the Eastern USA. In recent years, we have studied the emergence of novel <em>Bipolaris</em> spp. within some of these <em>M. vimineum</em> populations as a model system. <em>Bipolaris</em> spp. typically are identified by morphological features together with phylogenetically informative, multilocus sequences. However, isolation of <em>Bipolaris</em> spp., especially from lesions that also have been colonized by saprophytes, poses a research bottleneck. Further, current multilocus sequencing techniques are not amenable to high-throughput amplicon sequencing directly from plant tissue. We investigated Brn1, a reductase gene involved in melanin biosynthesis, as a potential single-locus barcoding region for the high throughput identification of <em>Bipolaris</em> spp. in diseased plant tissue. Our results suggest high interspecific variation and low intraspecific variation, which supports the potential use of Brn1 as a novel single-locus barcoding region for <em>Bipolaris</em> spp.</div>