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Global Hierarchical Gene Diversity Analysis Suggests the Fertile Crescent Is Not the Center of Origin of the Barley Scald Pathogen Rhynchosporium secalis

September 2006 , Volume 96 , Number  9
Pages  941 - 950

Pascal L. Zaffarano , Bruce A. McDonald , Marcello Zala , and Celeste C. Linde

First, second, and third authors: Plant Pathology, Institute of Integrative Biology, ETH Zurich, LFW, CH-8092 Zürich, Switzerland; and fourth author: School of Botany and Zoology, Building 116, Daley Rd., Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia

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Accepted for publication 21 March 2006.

A total of 1,366 Rhynchosporium secalis isolates causing scald on barley, rye, and wild barley (Hordeum spontaneum) were assayed for restriction fragment length polymorphism loci, DNA fingerprints, and mating type, to characterize global genetic structure. The isolates originated from 31 field populations on five continents. Hierarchical analysis revealed that more than 70% of the total genetic variation within regions was distributed within a barley field. At the global level, only 58% of the total genetic variation was distributed within fields, while 11% was distributed among fields within regions, and 31% was distributed among regions. A significant correlation was found between genetic and geographic distance. These findings suggest that gene flow is common at the local level while it is low between regions on the same continent, and rare between continents. Analyses of multilocus associations, genotype diversity, and mating type frequencies indicate that sexual recombination is occurring in most of the populations. We found the highest allele richness in Scandinavia followed by Switzerland. This suggests that R. secalis may not have originated at the center of origin of barley, the Fertile Crescent, nor in a secondary center of diversity of barley, Ethiopia.

Additional keywords: coevolution, host specialization, population genetics, speciation.

© 2006 The American Phytopathological Society