van der Waals
Gold Fields Computer Centre and Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), University of Pretoria, Pretoria, 0002, South Africa
Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), University of Pretoria, Pretoria, 0002, South Africa
Genetic diversity among isolates of Alternaria solani, the causal agent of early blight of potato, from various potato-growing regions in South Africa (SA), was determined using virulence assays, vegetative compatibility (VC) tests, and random amplified microsatellite (RAMS) primers. The virulence assays showed low virulence levels for the largest part of the population, but failed to otherwise characterize the population diversity. The VC tests revealed 19 VC groups (VCGs), indicating a relatively high level of diversity among the isolates. There was little correlation between geographic origin of isolates and VCGs. Analysis of RAMS profiles revealed 27% genetic diversity among 46 isolates. This value is relatively high for an asexually reproducing fungus, but is similar to values obtained previously by authors studying A. solani. Distance analysis of the RAMS profiles also provided no evidence for geographical clustering of isolates. VCG and RAMS profiles indicated that isolates are randomly spread across SA. This fact, together with the high diversity of A. solani in SA, indicates that the fungus has a high potential to adapt to resistant cultivars or fungicides. This information can aid in the breeding and deployment of A. solani-resistant potato varieties, and in early blight disease management in SA.