Department of Plant Pathology, University of California-Davis, Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier 93648
Alternaria isolates were obtained from various pistachio tissues collected in five orchards in California. For all isolates, morphological characteristics of the colony and sporulation apparatus were determined and compared with those of representative isolates of A. alternata, A. tenuissima, A. arborescens, and A. infectoria. A selection of the pistachio isolates and the representative Alternaria isolates were evaluated for pathogenicity to pistachio. Molecular characteristics of these isolates were determined using random amplified polymorphism DNA (RAPD) analysis, polymerase chain reaction restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) analysis of nuclear intergenic spacer rDNA, and sequence analysis of nuclear internal transcribed spacer (ITS) rDNA. Based on morphological characteristics, the pistachio isolates were grouped as identical or very similar to either A. alternata, A. tenuissima, A. arborescens, or A. infectoria. Isolates from the alternata, tenuissima, and arborescens species-groups were pathogenic to pistachio and no significant differences in pathogenicity were observed. Isolates from the infectoria species-group were only weakly pathogenic to pistachio. Based on cluster analysis of RAPD and PCR-RFLP data, three distinct clusters were evident; the infectoria cluster, the arborescens cluster, and a combined alternata/tenuissima cluster. Based on analysis of ITS sequence data, the infectoria species-group was phylogenetically distinct from the other species-groups. Isolates of the alternata, tenuissima, and arborescens species-groups comprised a monophyletic clade in which the three species-groups could not be further resolved.