First author: USDA-ARS, Department of Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh 27607-7631; and second author: AgrEvo Canada, 203-407 Downey Road, Saskatoon, SK R7N 4L8, Canada
Collections of Puccinia triticina, the wheat leaf rust fungus, were obtained from Great Britain, Slovakia, Israel, Germany, Australia, Italy, Spain, Hungary, South Africa, Uruguay, New Zealand, Brazil, Pakistan, Nepal, and eastern and western Canada. All single-uredinial isolates derived from the collections were tested for virulence polymorphism on 22 Thatcher wheat lines that are near-isogenic for leaf rust resistance genes. Based on virulence phenotype, selected isolates were also tested for randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) using 11 primers. The national collections were placed into 11 groups based on previously established epidemiological zones. Among the 131 single-uredinial isolates, 105 virulence phenotypes and 82 RAPD phenotypes were described. In a modified analysis of variance, 26% of the virulence variation was due to differences in isolates between groups, with the remainder attributable to differences within groups. Of the RAPD variation, 36% was due to differences in isolates between groups. Clustering based on the average virulence distance (simple distance coefficient) within and between groups resulted in eight groups that differed significantly. Collections from Australia-New Zealand, Spain, Italy, and Britain did not differ significantly for virulence. Clustering of RAPD marker differences (1 - Dice coefficient) distinguished nine groups that differed significantly. Collections from Spain and Italy did not differ significantly for RAPD variation, neither did collections from western Canada and South America. Groups of isolates distinguished by avirulent/virulent infection types to wheat lines with resistance genes Lr1, Lr2a, Lr2c, and Lr3 also differed significantly for RAPD distance, showing a general relationship between virulence and RAPD phenotype. The results indicated that on a worldwide level collections of P. triticina differ for virulence and molecular backgrounds.