Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis, c/o U.S. Agricultural Research Station, 1636 E. Alisal Street, Salinas 93905.
Few studies in population biology have documented how structure and diversity of pathogens evolve over time at local scales. With the historical samples of Verticillium dahliae available from lettuce, we investigated the structure and diversity of this pathogen in time and space. Three hundred twenty-nine V. dahliae isolates from lettuce fields collected over 18 years were characterized with polymorphic microsatellite markers and polymerase chain reaction tests for race and mating type. Genetic variation within and among commercial lettuce fields in a single season was also investigated using an additional 146 isolates. Sixty-two haplotypes (HTs) were observed among the 329 isolates. A single HT was frequently observed over multiple years and locations (61.40%). Genetic diversity, allelic richness, and private allelic richness suggested a relatively recent clonal expansion. Race 1 (93.63%) and MAT1-2-1 (99.69%) were overwhelmingly represented among the isolates. Linkage disequilibrium was significant (P < 0.001) for all populations, suggesting limited sexual recombination in the sampled populations from lettuce. Populations from 2006, 2009, and 2010 had higher numbers of unique HTs, implying a recent introduction of novel HTs. We conclude that V. dahliae population from lettuce evaluated in this study is expanding clonally, consistent with an asexually reproducing pathogen, and the movement of clonal genotypes locally occurs over time.