Micro- and macrospatial scale analyses illustrates mixed mating strategies and extensive geneflow in populations of an invasive haploid pathogen

Authors

  • GUILLERMO PÉREZ,

    1. Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
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  • BERNARD SLIPPERS,

    1. Department of Genetics, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
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  • BRENDA D. WINGFIELD,

    1. Department of Genetics, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
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  • GAVIN C. HUNTER,

    1. Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
    2. CBS, Fungal Biodiversity Centre, Uppsalalaan 8, 3584 CT, Utrecht, The Netherlands
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  • MICHAEL J. WINGFIELD

    1. Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
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Guillermo Pérez, Fax: 27 (0)12 420 3960; E-mail: guillermo.perez@fabi.up.ac.za

Abstract

Sexual reproduction in fungi involves either a single individual (selfing) or two individuals (outcrossing). To investigate the roles that these two strategies play in the establishment of an invasive alien pathogen, the Eucalyptus leaf-infecting fungus, Teratosphaeria (Mycosphaerella) nubilosa was studied. Specifically, the genetic diversity of the pathogen was investigated at micro and macrospatial scales. Interestingly, while data obtained at microspatial scales show clearly that selfing is the main reproductive strategy, at macrospatial scales the population genetic structure was consistent with a genetically outcrossing organism. Additional analyses were performed to explore these apparently discordant results at different spatial scales and to quantify the contribution of selfing vs. outcrossing to the genotypic diversity. The results clearly show that the fungus has a mixed mating strategy. While selfing is the predominant form of mating, outcrosses must have occurred in the pathogen that increased the genotypic diversity of the fungus over time. This mating strategy, coupled with the high levels of geneflow between distant populations of the pathogen, has created an even distribution of maximum diversity from the smallest (leaf) to largest scales (>500 km), which will make breeding for resistance difficult. These data illustrate the evolutionary potential and danger of the introduction of multiple genotypes of a potentially outcrossing pathogen, especially when it has a high dispersal potential.

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