Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis, 1636 E Alisal St., Salinas 93905.
Two pathogenic races of Verticillium dahliae have been described on lettuce and tomato. Host resistance to race 1 is governed by plant immune receptors that recognize the race 1-specific fungal effector Ave1. Only partial resistance to race 2 exists in lettuce. Although polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays are available to identify race 1, no complementary test exists to positively identify race 2, except for lengthy pathogenicity assays on host differentials. Using the genome sequences of two isolates of V. dahliae, one each from races 1 and 2, we identified potential markers and PCR primers to distinguish the two races. Several primer pairs based on polymorphisms between the races were designed and tested on reference isolates of known race. One primer pair, VdR2F-VdR2R, consistently yielded a 256-bp amplicon in all race 2 isolates exclusively. We screened DNA from 677 V. dahliae isolates, including 340 from spinach seedlots, with the above primer pair and a previously published race 1-specific primer pair. DNA from isolates that did not amplify with race 1-specific PCRs amplified with the race 2-specific primers. To validate this, two differential lines of lettuce were inoculated with 53 arbitrarily selected isolates from spinach seed and their pathogenicity and virulence were assessed in a greenhouse. The reactions of the differential cultivars strongly supported the PCR data. V. dahliae race structure was investigated in crops in coastal California and elsewhere using primers specific to the two races. All artichoke isolates from California were race 1, whereas nearly all tomato isolates were race 2. Isolates from lettuce, pepper, and strawberry from California as well as isolates from spinach seed from two of four countries comprised both races, whereas only race 2 was observed in cotton, mint, olive, and potato. This highlights the importance of identifying resistance against race 2 in different hosts. The technique developed in this study will benefit studies in ecology, population biology, disease surveillance, and epidemiology at local and global scales, and resistance breeding against race 2 in lettuce and other crops.