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Genetic Relationships Among Populations of Gibberella zeae from Barley, Wheat, Potato, and Sugar Beet in the Upper Midwest of the United States

    Authors and Affiliations
    • R. R. Burlakoti
    • S. Ali
    • G. A. Secor
    • S. M. Neate
    • M. P. McMullen
    • T. B. Adhikari

      Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1094/PHYTO-98-9-0969

      Gibberella zeae, a causal agent of Fusarium head blight (FHB) in wheat and barley, is one of the most economically harmful pathogens of cereals in the United States. In recent years, the known host range of G. zeae has also expanded to noncereal crops. However, there is a lack of information on the population genetic structure of G. zeae associated with noncereal crops and across wheat cultivars. To test the hypothesis that G. zeae populations sampled from barley, wheat, potato, and sugar beet in the Upper Midwest of the United States are not mixtures of species or G. zeae clades, we analyzed sequence data of G. zeae, and confirmed that all populations studied were present in the same clade of G. zeae. Ten variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) markers were used to determine the genetic structure of G. zeae from the four crop populations. To examine the effect of wheat cultivars on the pathogen populations, 227 strains were sampled from 10 subpopulations according to wheat cultivar types. The VNTR markers also were used to analyze the genetic structure of these subpopulations. In all populations, gene (H = 0.453 to 0.612) and genotype diversity (GD = >0.984) were high. There was little or no indication of linkage disequilibrium (LD) in all G. zeae populations and subpopulations. In addition, high gene flow (Nm) values were observed between cereal and noncereal populations (Nm = 10.69) and between FHB resistant and susceptible wheat cultivar subpopulations (Nm = 16.072), suggesting low population differentiation of G. zeae in this region. Analysis of molecular variance also revealed high genetic variation (>80%) among individuals within populations and subpopulations. However, low genetic variation (<5%) was observed between cereal and noncereal populations and between resistant and susceptible wheat subpopulations. Overall, these results suggest that the populations or subpopulations are likely a single large population of G. zeae affecting crops in the upper Midwest of the United States.