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Postbloom Fruit Drop of Citrus and Key Lime Anthracnose Are Caused by Distinct Phylogenetic Lineages of Colletotrichum acutatum

March 2008 , Volume 98 , Number  3
Pages  345 - 352

N. A. Peres, S. J. MacKenzie, T. L. Peever, and L. W. Timmer

First and second authors: University of Florida, Department of Plant Pathology, Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, Wimauma 33598; third author: Washington State University, Department of Plant Pathology, Pullman 99164; and fourth author: University of Florida, Department of Plant Pathology, Citrus Research and Education Center, Lake Alfred 33850.

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Accepted for publication 3 November 2007.

Colletotrichum acutatum causes two diseases of citrus, postbloom fruit drop (PFD) and Key lime anthracnose (KLA). PFD is a disease restricted to flowers of sweet orange and most other citrus, and symptoms include petal necrosis, abscission of developing fruit, and the formation of persistent calyces. KLA is a disease of foliage, flowers, and fruits of Key lime only, and symptoms include necrotic lesions on leaves, fruits, twigs, flowers, and blight of entire shoots. The internal transcribed spacers 1 and 2 and the gene encoding the 5.8S ribosomal RNA subunit within the nuclear ribosomal cluster (ITS) and intron 2 of the glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase gene (G3PD) were sequenced for isolates from PFD-affected sweet orange and KLA-affected Key limes collected in the United States (Florida), Brazil (São Paulo), Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic to determine if there are consistent genetic differences between PFD and KLA isolates over the geographic area where these diseases occur. Based on the sequence data, isolates clustered into two well-supported clades with little or no sequence variation among isolates within clades. One clade (PFD clade) contained PFD isolates from all countries sampled plus a few isolates from flowers of Key lime in Brazil. The other clade (KLA clade) contained KLA isolates from Key lime foliage from all countries sampled and one isolate from flowers of sweet orange in Mexico. In greenhouse inoculations with PFD and KLA isolates from Florida, isolates from both clades produced PFD symptoms on Orlando tangelo flowers, but KLA-clade isolates produced significantly less severe symptoms. PFD-clade isolates were not pathogenic to Key lime foliage, confirming previous studies. The differentiation of PFD and KLA isolates into two well-supported clades and the pathogenicity data indicate that PFD and KLA are caused by distinct phylogenetic lineages of C. acutatum that are also biologically distinct. PFD is a recently described disease (first reported in 1979) relative to KLA (first reported in 1912) and it had been proposed that strains causing PFD evolved from strains causing KLA eventually losing pathogenicity to Key lime foliage. We reject the hypothesis that PFD strains have diverged from KLA strains recently based on estimated divergence times of haplotypes and it appears that PFD and KLA strains have been dispersed throughout the Americas independently in association with each host.

Additional keywords:Gloeosporium limetticolum, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides.

© 2008 The American Phytopathological Society