A unique genotype of the rust pathogen, Puccinia psidii, on Myrtaceae in South Africa
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The rust pathogen, Puccinia psidii, was first detected in South Africa in 2013 on a single non-native ornamental Myrtus communis tree. This prompted surveys of the country to determine its geographic distribution and host range. Previously developed microsatellite markers where used to characterize the genetic diversity of P. psidii isolates collected from these surveys. In addition, artificial inoculation studies and field observations were used to evaluate the susceptibility of native Myrtaceae to infection by P. psidii. The pathogen was found on native Myrtaceae in isolated natural situations and it was also common on exotic Myrtaceae in nurseries and gardens. Marker analysis showed that a single genotype of the rust is present in South Africa and that this is different to the so-called “pandemic” strain recorded in countries outside Brazil. It was found to have a broad distribution in South Africa with collections as far as 1500 km apart. The data provide firm evidence for a single introduction of the pathogen from an as yet unkown source. Its wide distribution, particularly in relatively isolated natural areas, suggests that P. psidii has been present in South Africa for much longer than implied by its first detection in the country.
KeywordsEugenia natalitia Guava rust Myrtle rust Myrtus communis
We are grateful to Dave and Audrey Woods of Indigiflora, Munster, for providing us with plants to use in the screening trials and to Mr. Jason Batemen of the Manie van der Schijff Botanical Gardern (University of Pretoria) for assistance with sourcing plants. Prof. Braam van Wyk (Department of Plant Sciences, University of Pretoria) provided valuable discussions regarding the taxonomy of Myrtaceae and Dr. Geoff Pegg (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Horticulture and Forestry Science, Agri-Science Queensland, Australia) is thanked for provision of specimens from Australia. This work is based on research partially supported by the Tree Protection Co-operative Program (TPCP) and the National Research Foundation of South Africa (Grant specific unique reference numbers UID 78566 and UID 83924). The grant holders acknowledge that opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in any publication generated by the NRF supported research are that of the authors and that the NRF accepts no liability whatsoever in this regard.
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