First and fourth authors: University of Florida/IFAS, Plant Pathology Department, 1453 Fifield Hall, P.O. Box 110680, Gainesville 32611; second author: Western Pacific Tropical Research Center, University of Guam, UOG Station, Mangilao, Guam 96923; and third author: University of Florida/IFAS, Everglades Research and Education Center, Belle Glade 33630.
The fungus Corynespora cassiicola is primarily found in the tropics and subtropics, and is widely diverse in substrate utilization and host association. Isolate characterization within C. cassiicola was undertaken to investigate how genetic diversity correlates with host specificity, growth rate, and geographic distribution. C. cassiicola isolates were collected from 68 different plant species in American Samoa, Brazil, Malaysia, and Micronesia, and Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee within the United States. Phylogenetic analyses using four loci were performed with 143 Corynespora spp. isolates, including outgroup taxa obtained from culture collections: C. citricola, C. melongenae, C. olivacea, C. proliferata, C. sesamum, and C. smithii. Phylogenetic trees were congruent from the ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer region, two random hypervariable loci (caa5 and ga4), and the actin-encoding locus act1, indicating a lack of recombination within the species and asexual propagation. Fifty isolates were tested for pathogenicity on eight known C. cassiicola crop hosts: basil, bean, cowpea, cucumber, papaya, soybean, sweet potato, and tomato. Pathogenicity profiles ranged from one to four hosts, with cucumber appearing in 14 of the 16 profiles. Bootstrap analyses and Bayesian posterior probability values identified six statistically significant phylogenetic lineages. The six phylogenetic lineages correlated with host of origin, pathogenicity, and growth rate but not with geographic location. Common fungal genotypes were widely distributed geographically, indicating long-distance and global dispersal of clonal lineages. This research reveals an abundance of previously unrecognized genetic diversity within the species and provides evidence for host specialization on papaya.
Additional keywords:target spot.