Plants for planting ; indirect evidence for the movement of a serious forest pathogen, Teratosphaeria destructans, in Asia

14 Jun 2011

Fungal diseases caused by native pathogens and pathogens introduced with planting stock have a significant impact on exotic plantation forestry in the tropics. Teratosphaeria destructans (formerly Kirramyces destructans) is a serious pathogen causing leaf, bud and shoot blight diseases of Eucalyptus spp. in plantations in the sub-tropics and tropics of south-east Asia. This pathogen was first discovered in Indonesia in 1995 and has subsequently spread to Thailand, China, Vietnam and East Timor. The biology, ecology and genetics of this important pathogen have not been explored yet. The objective of this study was, thus, to determine the genetic diversity and movement of T. destructans throughout south-east Asia using multi-gene phylogenies and microsatellite markers. Out of nine gene regions only two microsatellite markers detected a very low nucleotide polymorphism between isolates; seven other gene regions, ITS, β-tubulin, EF1-α, CHS, ATP6 and two microsatellite loci, reflected genetic uniformity. The two polymorphic molecular markers resolved six haplotypes among isolates from Indonesia and only a single haplotype elsewhere in Asia. The low diversity observed among isolates in the region of the first outbreak is as expected for a small founder population. The spread of a single clone over large distances throughout the region supports the hypothesis of spread via the human-mediated movement of germplasm.