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Invasion Genetics of the Chestnut Blight Fungus Cryphonectria parasitica in Switzerland

January 2012 , Volume 102 , Number  1
Pages  73 - 82

S. Prospero and D. Rigling

WSL Swiss Federal Research Institute, Zuercherstrasse 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland.

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Accepted for publication 3 August 2011.

Cryphonectria parasitica is the best-known example of an invasive forest pathogen in Europe. In southern Switzerland, chestnut blight was first reported in 1948 whereas, north of the Alps, it did not appear until the 1980s. Between 1995 and 2008, we sampled 640 C. parasitica isolates from nine populations south of the Alps and nine north of the Alps. Twelve historical isolates, collected between 1950 and 1972 in the south, were obtained from our collection. All 652 isolates were screened at 10 microsatellite loci to test for the existence of divergent genetic pools and to infer possible origins of haplotypes. In total, 52 haplotypes were identified. Structure software analysis indicated that 43 haplotypes (including all historical haplotypes) belonged to a main cluster, 6 haplotypes belonged to a different cluster, and 3 haplotypes had an intermediate allele pattern. All newly founded populations in northern Switzerland were initiated by one or just a few haplotypes from the main cluster, which probably came directly from the populations south of the Alps. Subsequently, genetic diversity increased through mutations, sexual reproduction, or new migrations. The highest increase in diversity was observed in populations where haplotypes from different genetic pools were encountered.

Additional keywords: admixture, clonality, fungal pathogen, introduction.

© 2012 The American Phytopathological Society