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Anthracnose Fruit and Root Necrosis of Strawberry Are Caused by a Dominant Species Within the Colletotrichum acutatum Species Complex in the United States

Wang, Nan-Yi, Forcelini, Bruna B., Peres, Natalia A.
Phytopathology 2019 v.109 no.7 pp. 1293-1301
Colletotrichum acutatum, anthracnose, dominant species, fruits, fungicide resistance, loci, multilocus sequence typing, necrosis, pathogenicity, phenotype, plant rots, plant tissues, provenance, roots, strawberries, United States
Strawberry anthracnose fruit rot and root necrosis, caused by Colletotrichum acutatum, are primary limiting factors in fruit production fields in the United States. Recent research focusing on the phenotypic and genetic characteristics of this species has shed light on the diversity of the C. acutatum species complex. In this study, we performed multilocus sequence analysis of four genetic loci to characterize 217 C. acutatum isolates collected over a 23-year period from symptomatic plant tissues of strawberry from six different states. The results revealed two Colletotrichum spp. (C. nymphaeae and C. fioriniae), with 97.7% of the isolate collection (212 of 217) belonging to C. nymphaeae as a dominant clonal linage, regardless of the isolation source. No correlation between species groups and geographical origins of the isolates was observed. Further sequence comparison between historical and contemporary isolates showed the same populations being widely distributed throughout the strawberry nurseries and production fields in the United States and Canada. Subsequently, a subset of 12 isolates representing different quinone-outside inhibitor fungicide resistance profiles from root or fruit tissue of strawberry was selected for comparison of pathogenicity on strawberry. In this test, isolates of different resistance groups or different isolation sources exhibited a similar degree of aggressiveness and caused indistinguishable symptoms on strawberry crowns (P = 0.9555 and 0.7873, respectively) and fruit (P = 0.1638 and 0.1141, respectively), although a significant difference among individual isolates was observed in detached-fruit assays (P = 0.0123). Separate pathogenicity tests using isolates of the two species revealed C. nymphaeae being more aggressive than C. fioriniae in infecting strawberry roots and crowns (P = 0.0073). Therefore, given the occurrence and pathogenicity of C. nymphaeae, this species is likely the sole cause responsible for strawberry anthracnose in the United States.