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Virulence Structure of the Eastern U.S. Wheat Powdery Mildew Population

Parks, Ryan, Carbone, Ignazio, Murphy, J. Paul, Marshall, David, Cowger, Christina
Plant disease 2008 v.92 no.7 pp. 1074
Triticum aestivum, wheat, Erysiphe graminis f. sp. tritici, plant pathogenic fungi, powdery mildew, population structure, virulence, strains, disease surveillance, disease resistance, genetic resistance, phenotype, loci, genetic distance, gene flow, microbial genetics
Little is known about the population structure of wheat powdery mildew in the eastern United States, and the most recent report on virulence in this population involved isolates collected in 1993-94. In the present study, wheat leaves naturally infected with powdery mildew were collected from 10 locations in the southeastern United States in 2003 and 2005 and a collection of 207 isolates was derived from single ascospores. Frequencies of virulence to 16 mildew resistance (Pm) genes were determined by inoculating the isolates individually on replicated plates of detached leaves of differential wheat lines. These virulence frequencies were used to infer local effectiveness of Pm genes, estimate virulence complexity, detect significant associations between pairs of pathogen avirulence loci, and assess whether phenotypic differences between pathogen subpopulations increased with geographic distance. In both years, virulence to Pm3a, Pm3c, Pm5a, and Pm7 was present in more than 90% of sampled isolates and virulence to Pm1a, Pm16, Pm17, and Pm25 was present in fewer than 10% of isolates. In each year, 71 to 88% of all sampled isolates possessed one of a few multilocus virulence phenotypes, although there were significant differences among locations in frequencies of virulence to individual Pm genes. Several significant associations were detected between alleles for avirulence to pairs of Pm genes. Genetic (phenotypic) distance between isolate subpopulations increased significantly (R2 = 0.40, P < 0.001) with increasing geographic separation; possible explanations include different commercial deployment of Pm genes and restricted gene flow in the pathogen population.