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Molecular Polymorphism and Phenotypic Diversity in the Eutypa Dieback Pathogen Eutypa lata

February 2015 , Volume 105 , Number  2
Pages  255 - 264

Renaud Travadon and Kendra Baumgartner

First author: Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616; and second author: United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Crops Pathology and Genetics Research Unit, Davis, CA 95616.

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Accepted for publication 22 July 2014.

Pathogen adaptation to different hosts can lead to specialization and, when coupled with reproductive isolation, genome-wide differentiation and ecological speciation. We tested the hypothesis of host specialization among California populations of Eutypa lata (causal fungus of Eutypa dieback of grapevine and apricot), which is reported from >90 species. Genetic analyses of nine microsatellite loci in 182 isolates from three hosts (grapevine, apricot, and willow) at three locations were complemented by cross-inoculations on cultivated hosts grapevine and apricot to reveal patterns of host specialization. The cultivated hosts are likely more important sources of inoculum than the wild host willow, based on our findings of higher pathogen prevalence and allelic richness in grapevine and apricot. High levels of gene flow among all three hosts and locations, and no grouping by clustering analyses, suggest neither host nor geographic differentiation. Cross-inoculations revealed diversified phenotypes harboring various performance levels in grapevine and apricot, with no apparent correlation with their host of origin. Such phenotypic diversity may enable this pathogen to persist and reproduce as a generalist. Regular genetic reshuffling through sexual recombination, frequent immigration among hosts, and the lack of habitat choice in this passively dispersed fungus may prevent fixation of alleles controlling host specialization.

This article is in the public domain and not copyrightable. It may be freely reprinted with customary crediting of the source. The American Phytopathological Society, 2015.