Mitochondrial haplotypes in populations of the plant-infecting fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum: wide distribution in agriculture, local distribution in the wild


  • This paper is part of a thesis by Yatika Kohli, written in partial fulfilment of the requirements for a PhD degree at the University of Toronto. It is part of the ongoing work of Linda Kohn on the systematics of the Sclerotiniaceae.

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Analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplotypes of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum points to a common origin of some genotypes from agricultural populations, especially when compared with two wild populations that are sharply distinguished from the agricultural sample and from each other. Five agricultural population samples from canola (Alberta, Canada and Norway), cabbage (North Carolina, USA), sunflower (Manitoba, Canada and Queensland, Australia) and two Norwegian populations from a wild plant, Ranunculus ficaria were compared. Haplotypes were determined by Southern hybridization of purified organelle DNA from S. sclerotiorum and Neurospora crassa to total genomic DNA of S. sclerotiorum. Each isolate had one haplotype. Haplotypes of S. sclerotiorum from R. ficaria were different between the two wild populations and also from all haplotypes observed in the agricultural populations. Among the wild isolates, DNA fingerprint, mtDNA haplotype and location in the sampling transect were all associated. Among the agricultural isolates, four haplotypes were observed in at least two agricultural populations and one haplotype was observed in all agricultural populations. In the Canadian canola sample some clones had one mtDNA haplotype, indicating association with DNA fingerprint, some clones had more than one haplotype, and some groups of clones shared haplotypes. Some of the haplotype diversity may be due to the presence of extra-chromosomal elements associated with the mitochondria of S. sclerotiorum.