CSIRO Plant Industry, G.P.O. Box 1600, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia.
Fifty strains of Fusarium oxysporum, recovered from rhizosphere soil around native Gossypium species and found to be mildly virulent on cotton (Gossypium hirsutum), were used to assay the propensity for evolution of virulence using serial passage assays through cotton. Only one lineage A strain, 2613, successfully completed 10 successive passages, while all others lost the ability to cause foliar disease symptoms at various stages during this process. Based on 46 amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers generated with four EcoRI × MseI primer combinations, mutants were identified in offspring isolates from strain 2613 regardless of whether serial passages occurred in cotton or on water agar, suggesting the occurrence of spontaneous mutations. Significantly increased virulence was observed in the offspring isolates generated on cotton, while no increasing virulence was found in those obtained on water agar, suggesting that the evolution of virulence in F. oxysporum f. sp. vasinfectum is associated with the presence of cotton. No clear correlation was observed between the AFLP mutations and increased virulence in this study.