A. Brunelli, and
B. M. Pryor
First, second, and third authors: Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, Department of Agri-food Protection and Improvement (Diproval), Viale Fanin, 46 Bologna, Italy; and first and fourth authors: University of Arizona, Department of Plant Sciences, P.O. Box 210036, Tucson.
Go to article:
Accepted for publication 20 August 2012.
Since 1999, a disease of apple caused by an Alternaria sp. has been affecting orchards in northern Italy resulting in necrotic spots on leaves and on fruit. Forty-four single-spored isolates were obtained from diseased plant materials to investigate the diversity of this fungus in Italy and to compare these isolates to isolates of Alternaria associated with apple disease in previous studies, including A. mali, causal agent of apple blotch. All isolates, including the reference strains, were tested for pathogenicity utilizing in vitro bioassays on detached leaf or on fruit (‘Golden Delicious’). In addition, morphological characterizations were conducted describing both the three-dimensional sporulation pattern and the colony morphology of each isolate. In order to assess the genetic diversity within the Italian Alternaria population, sequence characterization of specific loci and anonymous regions (endoPG, OPA1-3, OPA2-1, and OPA10-2) and genetic fingerprinting based on amplified fragment length polymorphism and inter simple sequence repeat markers were performed. The single spore isolates exhibited differential pathogenicity, which did not correlate with the morphological groupings or to groupings defined by molecular approaches. Moreover, 10 pathogenic isolates out of the 44 single-spored tested were positive for the host-specific AM-toxin gene based upon polymerase chain reaction amplification using specific primers for the AM-toxin gene. This suggests that the production of the AM-toxin may be involved in pathogenesis by some of the Italian isolates of A. alternata from apple. However, this research also suggests that a number of different Alternaria genotypes and morphotypes may be responsible for the apple disease in Italy and that a single taxon cannot be defined as the sole causal agent.
© 2012 The American Phytopathological Society