Genetic variation in eastern North American and putatively introduced populations of Ceratocystis fimbriata f. platani


Dr Thomas C. Harrington. Fax: (515) 294 9420; E-mail:


The plant pathogenic fungus Ceratocystis fimbriata f. platani attacks Platanus species (London plane, oriental plane and American sycamore) and has killed tens of thousands of plantation trees and street trees in the eastern United States, southern Europe and Modesto, California. Nuclear and mitochondrial DNA fingerprints and alleles of eight polymorphic microsatellite markers of isolates of C. fimbriata from these regions delineated major differences in gene diversities. The 33 isolates from the eastern United States had a moderate degree of gene diversity, and unique genotypes were found at each of seven collection sites. Fingerprints of 27 isolates from 21 collection sites in southern Europe were identical with each other; microsatellite markers were monomorphic within the European population, except that three isolates differed at one locus each, due perhaps to recent mutations. The genetic variability of C. fimbriata f. platani in the eastern United States suggests that the fungus is indigenous to this region. The genetic homogeneity of the fungus in Europe suggests that this population has gone through a recent genetic bottleneck, perhaps from the introduction of a single genotype. This supports the hypothesis that the pathogen was introduced to Europe through Naples, Italy during World War II on infected crating material from the eastern United States. The Californian population may also have resulted from introduction of one or a few related genotypes because it, too, had a single nuclear and mitochondrial genotype and limited variation in microsatellite alleles.