First and third authors: Institute of Plant Sciences, Phytopathology Group, ETH Zentrum/LFW, Universitätstrasse 2, CH-8092 Zürich, Switzerland; and second author: Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, 2082 Cordley Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis 97331
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Accepted for publication 2 July 2001.
Restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) and DNA fingerprints were used to assess temporal variation and estimate the effective population size of the wheat pathogen Mycosphaerella graminicola over a 6-year period. In each year, the fungal population was founded by ascospores originating from outside the sampled fields. A total of 605 fungal isolates were included in this study. Our results indicate that the genetic structure of these M. graminicola populations were stable over the 6-year period. The common alleles at each RFLP locus were present at similar frequencies each year. More than 99% of gene diversity was distributed within populations sampled from the same year and less than 1% was attributed to differences among years. The lack of population differentiation among collections taken in different years indicated that the effective size of the source population was sufficiently large that genetic drift was insignificant in this location. It also suggests that the initial colonists from ascospore founder populations were a fair reflection of the source population. We estimate that the effective sizes of these field populations ranged from 3,400 to 700,000 individuals, depending on the size of the field sampled and assumptions about mutation rates. Estimates of the number of ascospores initiating epidemics of leaf blotch disease in each field plot and factors that contribute to the large effective population size of M. graminicola are discussed.
© 2001 The American Phytopathological Society