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Spatial and Genetic Analysis of a Flag Shoot Subpopulation of Erysiphe necator in Italy

June 2004 , Volume 94 , Number  6
Pages  544 - 550

Paolo Cortesi , Marie-Paule Ottaviani , and Michael G. Milgroom

First and second authors: Istituto di Patologia Vegetale, Università degli Studi di Milano, 20133 Milan, Italy; and third author: Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853

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Accepted for publication 31 January 2004.

Erysiphe necator overwinters as ascospores in cleistothecia and mycelium in dormant buds of grapevines. Shoots developing from infected buds early in the growing season are covered with dense mycelium and are known as “flag shoots”. Combining epidemiological and genetic analyses, the objective of this study was to analyze the spatial and genetic structure of a flag shoot subpopulation of E. necator as a way to assess the contribution of flag shoots as primary inoculum, and to determine if flag shoot subpopulations are clonal with only one mating type. One vineyard in Tuscany, Italy was surveyed intensively for flag shoots for 8 years; isolations of E. necator were made from flag shoots for 5 years. We observed distinct disease foci developing around flag shoots early in epidemics, demonstrating a steep dispersal gradient of conidia and the importance of flag shoots as primary inoculum sources. Flag shoots were spatially aggregated within and between years, most likely as a result of short-distance dispersal of conidia from flags early in the season when dormant buds for the next year's shoots are formed and are susceptible to infection. The two mating types were found in 1:1 ratios in this flag shoot subpopulation. Genotypic diversity, based on inter-simple sequence repeat markers, was high in all years with only two haplotypes occurring twice, and subpopulations were genetically differentiated between years. Similarities between haplotypes were not spatially autocorrelated. One multilocus analysis of population structure is consistent with the hypothesis of random mating but another is not. These results are not consistent with expectations for a strictly clonal or strictly randomly mating flag shoot subpopulation. Instead, the hypothesis that the flag shoot subpopulation of E. necator may reproduce clonally and sexually needs further testing.

Additional keywords: grape powdery mildew, overwintering, Uncinula necator, Vitis vinifera.

© 2004 The American Phytopathological Society