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Open Access Research article

Phylogeography and population structure of the grape powdery mildew fungus, Erysiphe necator, from diverse Vitis species

Marin Talbot Brewer and Michael G Milgroom*

Author Affiliations

Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2010, 10:268  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-10-268

Published: 1 September 2010

Abstract

Background

The grape powdery mildew fungus, Erysiphe necator, was introduced into Europe more than 160 years ago and is now distributed everywhere that grapes are grown. To understand the invasion history of this pathogen we investigated the evolutionary relationships between introduced populations of Europe, Australia and the western United States (US) and populations in the eastern US, where E. necator is thought to be native. Additionally, we tested the hypothesis that populations of E. necator in the eastern US are structured based on geography and Vitis host species.

Results

We sequenced three nuclear gene regions covering 1803 nucleotides from 146 isolates of E. necator collected from the eastern US, Europe, Australia, and the western US. Phylogeographic analyses show that the two genetic groups in Europe represent two separate introductions and that the genetic groups may be derived from eastern US ancestors. Populations from the western US and Europe share haplotypes, suggesting that the western US population was introduced from Europe. Populations in Australia are derived from European populations. Haplotype richness and nucleotide diversity were significantly greater in the eastern US populations than in the introduced populations. Populations within the eastern US are geographically differentiated; however, no structure was detected with respect to host habitat (i.e., wild or cultivated). Populations from muscadine grapes, V. rotundifolia, are genetically distinct from populations from other Vitis host species, yet no differentiation was detected among populations from other Vitis species.

Conclusions

Multilocus sequencing analysis of the grape powdery mildew fungus is consistent with the hypothesis that populations in Europe, Australia and the western US are derived from two separate introductions and their ancestors were likely from native populations in the eastern US. The invasion history of E. necator follows a pattern consistent with plant-mediated dispersal, however, more exhaustive sampling is required to make more precise conclusions as to origin. E. necator shows no genetic structure across Vitis host species, except with respect to V. rotundifolia.