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Inferences on pathogenic fungus population structures from microsatellite data: new insights from spatial genetics approaches

Authors


Jean Carlier, Fax: 33 (0) 499 624848; E-mail: jean.carlier@cirad.fr

Abstract

Landscape genetics, which combines population genetics, landscape ecology and spatial statistics, has emerged recently as a new discipline that can be used to assess how landscape features or environmental variables can influence gene flow and spatial genetic variation. We applied this approach to the invasive plant pathogenic fungus Mycosphaerella fijiensis, which causes black leaf streak disease of banana. Around 880 isolates were sampled within a 50 × 50 km area located in a fragmented banana production zone in Cameroon that includes several potential physical barriers to gene flow. Two clustering algorithms and a new FST-based procedure were applied to define the number of genetic entities and their spatial domain without a priori assumptions. Two populations were clearly delineated, and the genetic discontinuity appeared sharp but asymmetric. Interestingly, no landscape features matched this genetic discontinuity, and no isolation by distance (IBD) was found within populations. Our results suggest that the genetic structure observed in this production area reflects the recent history of M. fijiensis expansion in Cameroon rather than resulting from contemporary gene flow. Finally, we discuss the influence of the suspected high effective population size for such an organism on (i) the absence of an IBD signal, (ii) the characterization of contemporary gene-flow events through assignation methods of analysis and (iii) the evolution of the genetic discontinuity detected in this study.

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