A phylogeographical analysis of the scald pathogen Rhynchosporium secalis was conducted using nuclear DNA sequences from two neutral restriction fragment length polymorphism loci and the mating-type idiomorphs. Approximately 500 isolates sampled from more than 60 field populations from five continents were analysed to infer migration patterns and the demographic history of the fungus. Migration rates among continents were generally low, consistent with earlier reports of significant population subdivision among continents. Northern Europe was mainly a source population for global migration. We hypothesize that the pathogen only recently moved out of its centre of origin, resulting in founder populations that are reproductively isolated due to the contemporary absence of long-distance gene flow.
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