Invasive everywhere? Phylogeographic analysis of the globally distributed tree pathogen Lasiodiplodia theobromae

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 15
  • SDG 13
  • Abstract:

    Fungi in the Botryosphaeriaceae are important plant pathogens that persist endophytically in infected plant hosts. Lasiodiplodia theobromae is a prominent species in this family that infects numerous plants in tropical and subtropical areas. We characterized a collection of 255 isolates of L. theobromae from 52 plants and from many parts of the world to determine the global genetic structure and a possible origin of the fungus using sequence data from four nuclear loci. One to two dominant haplotypes emerged across all loci, none of which could be associated with geography or host; and no other population structure or subdivision was observed. The data also did not reveal a clear region of origin of the fungus. This global collection of L. theobromae thus appears to constitute a highly connected population. The most likely explanation for this is the human-mediated movement of plant material infected by this fungus over a long period of time. These data, together with related studies on other Botryosphaeriaceae, highlight the inability of quarantine systems to reduce the spread of pathogens with a prolonged latent phase.