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Genetic Relatedness of African and United States Populations of Cercospora zeae-maydis

May 2000 , Volume 90 , Number  5
Pages  486 - 490

Larry D. Dunkle and Morris Levy

First author: Crop Production and Pest Control Research, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1155; second author: Department of Biology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1392

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Accepted for publication 2 February 2000.

Two taxonomically identical but genetically distinct sibling species, designated groups I and II, of Cercospora zeae-maydis cause gray leaf spot of maize in the United States. Isolates of the gray leaf spot pathogen from Africa were compared with isolates from the United States by amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis and restriction digests of internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions and 5.8S ribosomal DNA (rDNA), as well as by morphological and cultural characteristics. The isolates from Africa were morphologically indistinguishable from the U.S. isolates in both groups, but like isolates of group II, they grew more slowly and failed to produce detectable amounts of cercosporin in culture. Analysis of restriction fragments from the ITS and rDNA regions digested with five endonucleases indicated that all of the African isolates shared the profile of the C. zeae-maydis group II population from the eastern United States and, thus, are distinct from the group I population, which is more prevalent in the United States and other parts of the world. Cluster analysis of 85 AFLP loci confirmed that the African and U.S. group II populations were conspecific (greater than 97% average similarity) with limited variability. Among all group II isolates, only 8 of 57 AFLP loci were polymorphic, and none was specific to either population. Thus, although gray leaf spot was reported in the United States several decades prior to the first record in Africa, the relative age of the two populations on their respective continents could not be ascertained with confidence. The absence of C. zeae-maydis group I in our samples from four countries in the major maize-producing region of Africa as well as the greater AFLP haplotype diversity found in the African group II population, however, suggest that Africa was the source of C. zeae-maydis group II in the United States. The overall paucity of AFLP variation in this sibling species further suggests that its origin is recent or that the ancestral population experienced a severe bottleneck prior to secondary migration.

Additional keywords: population genetics.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2000