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Invasion of European pine stands by a North American forest pathogen and its hybridization with a native interfertile taxon

Authors

  • P. GONTHIER,

    1. Department of Exploitation and Protection of the Agricultural and Forestry Resources — Plant Pathology, University of Torino, Via L. da Vinci 44, I-10095 Grugliasco, Italy,
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  • G. NICOLOTTI,

    1. Department of Exploitation and Protection of the Agricultural and Forestry Resources — Plant Pathology, University of Torino, Via L. da Vinci 44, I-10095 Grugliasco, Italy,
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  • R. LINZER,

    1. Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management — Ecosystem Sciences Division, University of California at Berkeley, 151 Hilgard Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
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  • F. GUGLIELMO,

    1. Department of Exploitation and Protection of the Agricultural and Forestry Resources — Plant Pathology, University of Torino, Via L. da Vinci 44, I-10095 Grugliasco, Italy,
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  • M. GARBELOTTO

    1. Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management — Ecosystem Sciences Division, University of California at Berkeley, 151 Hilgard Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
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Matteo Garbelotto, Fax: +1 510 643-5098; E-mail: matteo@nature.berkeley.edu

Abstract

It was recently reported that North American (NA) individuals of the forest pathogen Heterobasidion annosum were found in a single pine stand near Rome, in association with the movement of US troops during World War II. Here, we report on some aspects of the invasion biology of this pathogen in Italian coastal pinewoods, and on its interaction with native (EU) Heterobasidion populations. Spores of Heterobasidion were sampled using woody traps in pine stands along 280 km of coast around Rome. DNA of single-spore colonies was characterized by two sets of nuclear and one set of mitochondrial taxon-specific polymerase chain reaction primers. NA spores were found not only in a single site, but in many locations over a wide geographic area. Invasion occurred at an estimated rate of 1.3 km/year through invasion corridors provided by single trees, and not necessarily by sizable patches of forests. Within the 100-km long range of expansion, the NA taxon was dominant in all pure pine stands. Because abundance of the EU taxon is low and identical among stands within and outside the area invaded by NA individuals, we infer that the exotic population has invaded habitats mostly unoccupied by the native species. Discrepancy between a mitochondrial and a nuclear marker occurred in 3.8% of spores from one site, a mixed oak-pine forest where both taxa were equally represented. Combined phylogenetic analyses on nuclear and mitochondrial loci confirmed these isolates were recombinant. The finding of hybrids indicates that genetic interaction between NA and EU Heterobasidion taxa is occurring as a result of their current sympatry.

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