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Research article2016Peer reviewedOpen access

Assessment of diversity and genetic relationships of Neonectria ditissima: the causal agent of fruit tree canker

Ghasemkhani, Marjan; Gustavsson, Larisa; Liljeroth, Erland; Nybom, Hilde


Background: Neonectria ditissima is one of the most important fungal pathogens of apple trees, where it causes fruit tree canker. Information about the amount and partitioning of genetic variation of this fungus could be helpful for improving orchard management strategies and for breeding apple cultivars with high levels of genetically determined resistance. In this study single-spore Neonectria isolates originating from both the same and from different perithecia, apple cultivars and apple orchards in Sweden and Belgium, were evaluated for AFLP- and SSR-based genetic similarity and for mating system.Results: Seven SSR loci produced a total of 31 alleles with an average of 4 alleles per locus, while 11 AFLP primer combinations produced an average of 35 fragments per primer combination and 71 % polymorphic fragments. An AFLP-based analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) revealed that 89 % of the variation was found within orchards and 11 % between orchards. Genetic similarity among the studied isolates was illustrated with a principal coordinate analyseis (PCoA) and a dendrogram. AFLP-based Jaccard's similarity coefficients were the highest when single-ascospore isolates obtained from the same perithecium were compared, medium-high for isolates from different perithecia on the same tree, and lowest when isolates from different trees were compared.Conclusions: Based on the results of PCoA and AMOVA analysis, isolates from the same or geographically close orchards did not group together. Since AFLP profiles differed also when single-ascospore isolates from the same perithecium were compared, the mating system of N. ditissima is most likely heterothallic.


AFLP; Apple canker; Genetic variability; Heterothallism; Mating system; SSR

Published in

2016, Volume: 153, article number: 7