• AFLP;
  • fusarium head blight;
  • SCAR;
  • Triticum aestivum;
  • wheat scab

A large number of Fusarium graminearum and F. asiaticum isolates were collected from wheat spikes from all regions in China with a history of fusarium head blight (FHB) epidemics. Isolates were analysed to investigate their genetic diversity and geographic distribution. Sequence characterized amplified region (SCAR) analyses of 437 isolates resolved both species, with 21% being F. graminearum (SCAR type 1) and 79% being F. asiaticum (SCAR type 5). AFLP profiles clearly resolved two groups, A and B, that were completely congruent with both species. However, more diversity was detected by AFLP, revealing several subgroups within each group. In many cases, even for isolates from the same district, AFLP haplotypes differed markedly. Phylogenetic analyses of multilocus DNA sequence data indicated that all isolates of SCAR type 1, AFLP group A were F. graminearum, whilst isolates of SCAR type 5, AFLP group B were F. asiaticum, demonstrating that it is an efficient method for differentiating these two species. Both species seem to have different geographic distributions within China. Fusarium graminearum was mainly obtained from wheat growing in the cooler regions where the annual average temperature was 15°C or lower. In contrast, the vast majority of F. asiaticum isolates were collected from wheat growing in the warmer regions where the annual average temperature is above 15°C and where FHB epidemics occur most frequently. This is the first report of the distribution of, and genetic diversity within, F. graminearum and F. asiaticum on wheat spikes throughout China.