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Preservation of Monilinia fructicola Genotype Diversity Within Fungal Cankers

Dowling, Madeline E., Bridges, William C., Cox, Brodie M., Sroka, Tommy, Wilson, Jennifer R., Schnabel, Guido
Plant disease 2019 v.103 no.3 pp. 526-530
Monilinia fructicola, blight, branches, farms, fruits, fungal spores, fungi, genetic variation, genotype, inoculum, microsatellite repeats, orchards, pathogens, plant rots, spring, stone fruits, storehouses
Monilinia fructicola is a destructive pathogen causing brown rot on stone fruits worldwide. Though it is best known as a fruit rot pathogen, M. fructicola also causes blossom blight and, subsequently, twig cankers in the spring. Orchard management strategies often overlook cankers as an inoculum source, though they are an inoculum source of both blossom and fruit infections. In this study, we analyzed the role of cankers as storage structures for diverse genotypes of M. fructicola, examining whether multiple genotypes can be transmitted from blossom to canker. Fungal spores from blossoms, and 2 months later from their corresponding cankers, were collected from a conventional and an unsprayed orchard in 2015 and 2016. Simple sequence repeat markers were used to genotype 10 to 20 single spores from each of four blossom/canker pairs per orchard. Individual blossoms and cankers were detected containing up to four and five genotypes, respectively. The average number of genotypes in blossoms and corresponding cankers were not significantly different (P = 0.690) across both years and farms, showing that a bottleneck for genetic diversity was not generated during the transition from blossom to canker. The average number of genotypes unique to blossom or canker was not significantly different (P = 0.569) and no significant effect of farm (P = 0.961) or year (P = 0.520) was observed, although blossoms had a numerically greater number of unique genotypes in both cases. In conclusion, a single blossom may be infected by one or more genotypes of M. fructicola, and this diversity is being preserved in the corresponding canker. This information implicates M. fructicola cankers as diversity storehouses, and may also apply to other Monilinia spp. and fungal diseases that initiate in reproductive tissue.