, Volume 123, Issue 1, pp 61-70
Date: 08 Jul 2008

Spatio-temporal distribution of Erysiphe necator genetic groups and their relationship with disease levels in vineyards

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The discovery of genetically distinct Erysiphe necator groups (A or B), with high phenotypic similarities, raises important questions about their coexistence. For plant pathogens, niche partitioning, allowing the coexistence on the same host (i.e. the same resource), might result from separation in space and/or time. We used a landscape genetic approach to study the geographic distribution of genetic groups of E. necator (distinguished by a SNP in the β-tubulin gene) at the spatial scale of the Languedoc-Roussillon region (southern France) and to assess the temporal succession of groups along the course of the 2007 epidemic. Spatial distribution revealed a high heterogeneity between vineyards: from 100% B to 100% A, with 62% and 38% of vineyards showing a majority of A and B isolates, respectively. Temporal isolation seems to be the major mechanism in the coexistence of the two genetic groups: all isolates collected towards the end of the epidemic belonged to group B, whatever the initial frequency of genetic groups. Our results confirm that both A or B isolates can lead to flag-shoot symptoms, and showed that group A isolates tend to disappear during the course of the epidemic, whereas group B isolates may be active during the entire epidemic and involved in further production of cleistothecia, when recombination takes place. For the first time, the relationship between the frequency of genetic groups and disease levels on leaves and clusters at the end of the epidemic was evaluated. We showed a strong relationship between the disease severity and the genetic composition of E. necator populations: the damage was more important when the epidemic was initiated by B isolates.