Genetic diversity of Rhynchosporium secalis in Tunisia as revealed by pathotype, AFLP, and microsatellite analyses
Genetic variability among 122 Rhynchosporium secalis isolates collected from barley in three regions of Tunisia was investigated using host differentials, amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP), and microsatellite markers. The isolates were collected from a widely grown scald-susceptible barley cultivar Rihane and a range of local landrace cultivars in geographically distinct regions with different agroclimatic conditions. Pathotypic diversity (the proportion of unique pathotypes) was high in R. secalis populations from the high (100% diversity), moderate (95%), and low (100%) rainfall areas of Tunisia, and from both Rihane (which is the sole variety grown in the high rainfall region) and local landraces (which predominate in the low rainfall area). This may reflect a general adaptability for aggressiveness and suggests that the widely grown cultivar Rihane has exerted little or no selection pressure on the pathogen population since its release in 1983. Genotypic diversity (GD), defined as the probability that two individuals taken at random had different genotypes, was high for populations from Rihane, local landraces, and different agro-ecological zones (GD = 0.96-0.99). There was low genetic differentiation among pathogen populations from different host populations (G(ST) <= 0.08, theta <= 0.12) and agro-ecological zones (G(ST) <= 0.05, theta <= 0.04), which may be partly explained by gene flow due to the movement of infected stubble around the country. There was no correlation (r = 0.06, P = 0.39) between virulence phenotype and AFLP haplotype. A phenetic tree revealed groups with low bootstrap values that did not reflect the grouping of isolates based on host, pathotype, or agro-ecological region. The implications of these findings for R. secalis evolutionary potential and scald-resistance breeding in Tunisia are discussed.