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Sequence Variation in Two Protein-Coding Genes Correlates with Mycelial Compatibility Groupings in Sclerotium rolfsii

May 2013 , Volume 103 , Number  5
Pages  479 - 487

Efrén Remesal, Blanca B. Landa, María del Mar Jiménez-Gasco, and Juan A. Navas-Cortés

First, second, and fourth authors: Instituto de Agricultura Sostenible (IAS), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Apartado 4084, 14080 Córdoba, Spain; and third author: Department of Plant Pathology, The Pennsylvania State University, 309 Buckhout Laboratory, University Park 16802-4507.

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Accepted for publication 3 January 2013.

Populations of Sclerotium rolfsii, the causal organism of Sclerotium root-rot on a wide range of hosts, can be placed into mycelial compatibility groups (MCGs). In this study, we evaluated three different molecular approaches to unequivocally identify each of 12 previously identified MCGs. These included restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) patterns of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of nuclear ribosomal DNA (rDNA) and sequence analysis of two protein-coding genes: translation elongation factor 1α (EF1α) and RNA polymerase II subunit two (RPB2). A collection of 238 single-sclerotial isolates representing 12 MCGs of S. rolfsii were obtained from diseased sugar beet plants from Chile, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. ITS-RFLP analysis using four restriction enzymes (AluI, HpaII, RsaI, and MboI) displayed a low degree of variability among MCGs. Only three different restriction profiles were identified among S. rolfsii isolates, with no correlation to MCG or to geographic origin. Based on nucleotide polymorphisms, the RPB2 gene was more variable among MCGs compared with the EF1α gene. Thus, 10 of 12 MCGs could be characterized utilizing the RPB2 region only, while the EF1α region resolved 7 MCGs. However, the analysis of combined partial sequences of EF1α and RPB2 genes allowed discrimination among each of the 12 MCGs. All isolates belonging to the same MCG showed identical nucleotide sequences that differed by at least in one nucleotide from a different MCG. The consistency of our results to identify the MCG of a given S. rolfsii isolate using the combined sequences of EF1α and RPB2 genes was confirmed using blind trials. Our study demonstrates that sequence variation in the protein-coding genes EF1α and RPB2 may be exploited as a diagnostic tool for MCG typing in S. rolfsii as well as to identify previously undescribed MCGs.

© 2013 The American Phytopathological Society