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Comparison of Genetic and Virulence Diversity of Melampsora larici-populina Populations on Wild and Cultivated Poplar and Influence of the Alternate Host

September 2006 , Volume 96 , Number  9
Pages  1,027 - 1,036

Pierre R. Gérard , Claude Husson , Jean Pinon , and Pascal Frey

Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), Equipe de Pathologie Forestière, UMR 1136 Interactions Arbres—Microorganismes, IFR 110, 54280 Champenoux, France

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Accepted for publication 4 May 2006.

The aims of this study were, first, to compare the genetic and virulence diversity between populations of the rust fungus Melampsora larici-populina on wild and cultivated poplar stands and, second, to investigate the influence of the presence of the alternate host of the pathogen, larch, on which its sexual reproduction occurs, on these diversities. Nine French M. larici-populina populations collected from poplar trees in autumn and four populations collected from larch trees during the following spring were analyzed using both virulence factors and neutral markers. In all, 30 pathotypes were identified within the 13 populations studied. The pathotypic structure clearly distinguished the cultivated stands with high richness and complexity from the wild stands with low richness and complexity. High linkage disequilibria between virulences indicated preferential virulence associations, probably due to selection by the host. In all, 19 random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers were used, which revealed a very high genetic diversity in the 743 isolates analyzed. The nine populations from poplar appeared moderately differentiated, indicating long-distance gene flow, and no isolation by distance was found. Linkage disequilibria between RAPD markers generally were low, indicating frequent recombination, but they were not lower in populations located near larch, probably due to long-distance dispersal.

Additional keywords: black poplar, dominant markers, population genetics, Populus nigra, rust epidemics.

© 2006 The American Phytopathological Society