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Diversity and host association of the tropical tree endophyte Lasiodiplodia theobromae revealed using simple sequence repeat markers

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Lasiodiplodia theobromae is a cosmopolitan fungus with a worldwide distribution in the tropics and subtropics, where it causes shoot blight and dieback of trees and shrubs and imparts blue stain in timber. In this study, eight simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers were used to evaluate the genetic diversity and gene flow between populations of L. theobromae. The relationships between isolates from different hosts were considered using three populations from different tree species in Venezuela (VEN) and the relationships between isolates from different geographical origins included populations from VEN, South Africa (RSA) and Mexico (MEX). A small number of predominant genotypes were encountered in the VEN and RSA populations and thus genotypic diversity was low. There was no evidence of host specificity for isolates of L. theobromae and there was very high gene flow between populations from different hosts. Geographical isolation existed between populations of the pathogen from different regions, with unique alleles fixed in the different populations. Gene flow was, however, less restricted between isolates from MEX and the other populations, consistent with MEX as a common source of seed in both VEN and RSA. Genetic analysis suggested predominantly clonal reproduction with some genotypes widely distributed within a region. The broad host range of L. theobromae and the lack of evidence for host specialization, coupled with its endophytic nature and the common appearance of symptoms only after harvest, is likely to hinder disease management strategies.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Forestry and Agriculture Biotechnology Institute, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, 0002, Republic of South Africa

Publication date: 2005-12-01

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