Group Crop Health, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Rostock, Satower Str. 48, 18059 Germany.
The soilborne pathogen Plasmodiophora brassicae causes clubroot on Brassica crops, a common disease in many oilseed rape growing regions. Here, we investigate genetic diversity and geographic differentiation of P. brassicae populations from different regions in Germany. We compared three regions that differ in oilseed rape cropping history, oilseed rape acreage, and incidence of clubroot. These regions were either spatially separated or separated by the former inner German border. Plasmodiophora isolates were collected from 59 fields (29, 17, and 13 fields per region, respectively) and 174 amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers were analyzed. Every field isolate showed a unique genotype pattern; that is, no genotype was shared among the regions and different fields. The mean gene diversity was 0.27, suggesting that P. brassicae is a genetically diverse species. The comparison of indexes (gene diversity, genotypic diversity, and linkage disequilibrium) between the regions does not support our hypotheses that cropping history, oilseed rape acreage, and incidence of clubroot affect these estimates. Principal component analysis (PCA), fixation index (FST), and generalized linear model (GLM) were suitable to specify regional differences. PCA revealed two clusters of isolates based on the geographic origin of the isolates and FST showed that these clusters were highly differentiated. Hypotheses about association of genotypes with different spatial scales were tested with GLM: the region, reflecting the cropping history, and the individual field had a significant effect on the AFLP pattern. We propose that individual field isolates represent a discrete population and that geographic differentiation results from low levels of gene flow due to the limited dispersal of this soilborne pathogen and from localized selection pressure as unifying force on the genotypes.