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Population Structure of Dogwood Anthracnose Fungus

December 2002 , Volume 92 , Number  12
Pages  1,276 - 1,283

Ning Zhang and Meredith Blackwell

Department of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge 70803

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Accepted for publication 15 July 2002.

Dogwood anthracnose, caused by Discula destructiva, affects several native dogwood species in North America, especially flowering dogwood in the east and Pacific dogwood in the west. The fungus behaves as a recently introduced plant pathogen under episodic selection. Two distinct disjunct groups of fungal isolates corresponding to eastern and western groups were detected by amplified fragment length polymorphisms and sequences of the intergenic spacer (IGS) of the nuclear ribosomal DNA, translation elongation factor-1α, and β-tubulin genes. Of 20 genotypes identified among 72 isolates, 17 genotypes were from the eastern United States (n = 50), but only three were present among the western isolates (n = 22), indicating that the eastern population may be more diverse. Most eastern and western isolates belonged to a few widespread clones, and the genetic variability of this apparently asexual fungus was remarkably low compared with that of many other asexual fungi. We conclude that D. destructiva is still under intense selection pressure and that episodic selection may still be in effect. The New York City area, a possible epidemic center in the east, had relatively higher genetic variability than samples from other areas.

Additional keywords: Cornus, Diaporthales, genotypic diversity.

© 2002 The American Phytopathological Society