High diversity in populations of the introduced plant pathogen, Cryphonectria parasitica, due to encounters between genetically divergent genotypes


Mirna Ćurković-Perica, Fax: +38514898081; E-mail: mirna@botanic.hr


The ascomycete fungus Cryphonectria parasitica is an aggressive introduced pathogen of sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.). It has spread throughout the chestnut-growing areas of Europe, with higher diversity in the regions close to its first introduction and lower diversity in its expanding ranges in Europe. To reconstruct the invasion events that could explain the high diversity of C. parasitica in Croatia and Slovenia, 180 samples were genotyped using 11 sequence-characterized amplified region markers. Eight of 11 loci were found to be polymorphic, and a total of 66 different haplotypes were identified. Bayesian clustering indicated the existence of two clusters, which suggests two separate introductions of C. parasitica in these regions. The first cluster is dominant in western parts of Croatia and Slovenia and the second in eastern and northern regions. The data analysis indicates that northern Italy was the first source of infection, with the subsequent introduction from south-eastern Europe, which contributed significantly to the diversity of the C. parasitica populations tested. Most haplotypes were probably derived through sexual recombination between a few divergent haplotypes, which suggests that multiple introductions and sexual reproduction are important for the formation of genetically diverse C. parasitica populations.