17 April, 2019
Genetic diversity of the pine pathogen Lecanosticta acicola in Slovenia and Croatia
D. Sadiković, B. Piškur, I. Barnes, T. Hauptman, D. Diminić, M. J. Wingfield, D. Jurc
Brown spot needle blight (BSNB), a disease of pine trees caused by the fungus Lecanosticta acicola, has been known in Slovenia since 2008 and in Croatia since 1975. Recent outbreaks in Slovenia prompted this study to compare L. acicola populations in these two neighbouring European countries. Sixty‐nine isolates collected from three pine species (Pinus mugo, P. halepensis and P. nigra) were used to determine the phylogenetic relationships, genetic structure, and reproductive strategy of the pathogen. EF1‐α sequences showed that Slovenian and Croatian isolates share a common ancestry with individuals from central and northern Europe. Population structure analysis revealed four distinct population clusters of L. acicola in these two countries, generally corresponding to their respective geographic location and host. An unequal ratio of mating types and a low overall genetic diversity in the population indicated a strong influence of asexual reproduction. Although some of the oldest recorded European occurrences of BSNB are from Croatia, this study provided no evidence that the population studied in Croatia was the source of the sampled outbreaks in Slovenia. Recent outbreaks of L. acicola in Slovenia are most likely due to introductions from other, yet to be identified, sources.