Title page for ETD etd-07092008-094015

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Hunter, Gavin Craig
Email gavin.hunter@fabi.up.ac.za
URN etd-07092008-094015
Document Title Taxonomy, phylogeny and population biology of Mycosphaerella species occurring on Eucalyptus
Degree PhD (Microbiology)
Department Microbiology and Plant Pathology
Advisor Name Title
Prof B D Wingfield Co-Supervisor
Prof M J Wingfield Supervisor
  • DNA sequence datasets
  • Mycosphaerella species occurring on Euca
Date 2007-04-20
Availability unrestricted
Much research has been published on Mycosphaerella spp. causing Mycosphaerella Leaf Disease (MLD) on Eucalyptus spp. The first chapter of this thesis presents a review of the literature on this topic and focuses on the taxonomy, phylogeny and population biology of Mycosphaerella spp. occurring on Eucalyptus. From the published literature, it is clear that the majority of research conducted on MLD has focussed on the epidemiology and taxonomy of Mycosphaerella spp and the susceptibility of Eucalyptus hosts to species of Mycosphaerella. Advances in DNA-based technologies have, however, lead to extensive DNA sequence datasets of Mycosphaerella spp occurring on Eucalyptus. These datasets have provided substantial insight into species concepts for Mycosphaerella and have led to the realisation that many morphological species are complexes of several cryptic phylogenetic taxa. Furthermore, a recent application to the study of Mycosphaerella spp. occurring on Eucalyptus is that concerning their population dynamics. Such studies will aid in our understanding of the genetic structure of Mycosphaerella populations and their movement between countries. These population-based studies will aid forestry companies in establishing Eucalyptus breeding programmes to produce tolerant Eucalyptus genotypes that may be deployed in commercial forestry operations.

Mycosphaerella spp. are difficult to identify, due to their conserved teleomorph morphology and the lack of natural occurrences of anamorph structures. DNA sequence data have, therefore, become the definitive technique used to identify Mycosphaerella spp. The Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) region of the ribosomal RNA operon has traditionally been targeted for DNA sequence comparisons. However, this gene region does not offer sufficient resolution to discriminate cryptic taxa or resolve deeper nodes within Mycosphaerella. Results presented in chapter two of this thesis present a multi-gene phylogeny for the identification of Mycosphaerella spp. occurring on Eucalyptus. This is based on DNA sequence data from four nuclear gene regions. The generation of these sequence datasets has allowed for competent elucidation of cryptic taxa, species complexes and the greater resolution of deeper nodes within Mycosphaerella. Furthermore, these results have also led to recognising that Mycosphaerella ambipyhlla and M. vespa is a synonym of Mycosphaerella molleriana and Pseudocercospora epispermogonia is recognised as the asexual state of Mycosphaerella marksii.

A serious foliar disease of Eucalyptus camaldulensis and hybrids of this species has been known from Thailand and Vietnam for many years. This disease has been known to be caused by a species of Pseudocercospora and was attributed to the cosmopolitan Pseudocercospora eucalyptorum. Results of a study presented in chapter three of this thesis have, however, clearly shown that P. eucalyptorum is not the causal agent of the disease observed on E. camaldulensis in Thailand. By employing classical morphological techniques and DNA sequence data from four nuclear gene regions, I have shown that an undescribed species of Pseudocercospora is responsible for epidemics of this leaf disease. This species is formally described as Pseudocercospora flavomarginata. P. flavomarginata is only known from Thailand and Vietnam. However, considering that E. camaldulensis is planted in other south-east Asian countries and that E. camaldulensis is the most commonly found Eucalyptus sp. in Australia, further surveys in these areas will most likely lead to the discovery of the pathogen from these countries.

Techniques that have been used to identify Mycosphaerella spp. include classical morphological comparisons and analyses of DNA sequence data. These techniques have, however, allowed only for the study of the evolutionary history within Mycosphaerella and for species identification. Recent advances in the field of population biology have led to the study of many fungal pathogens at a population level. One of the main tools used to study population biology involves applying DNA-based microsatellite markers. Chapter four of this thesis focuses on the development of DNA-based microsatellite markers for the Eucalyptus leaf pathogen Mycosphaerella nubilosa. By employing specific enrichment protocols, I was able to develop ten polymorphic microsatellite markers for M. nubilosa. These microsatellite markers exhibit high specificity for M. nubilosa and did not cross amplify with other Mycosphaerella spp. that are closely related to M. nubilosa.

Mycosphaerella nubilosa has been extensively studied with respect to its taxonomy and epidemiology. However, nothing is known regarding the population biology of this important Eucalyptus leaf pathogen. Therefore, DNA-based microsatellite markers developed in chapter four of this thesis were used to study the population biology of M. nubilosa from several different geographic locations. Results presented in chapter five of this thesis show that populations of M. nubilosa from eastern Australia are genetically more diverse than those populations from western Australia, Africa and Europe. This indicates that eastern Australia is the likely centre of origin for M. nubilosa. Furthermore, based on shared haplotypes between M. nubilosa populations used in this study, I have proposed a pathway of gene flow of M. nubilosa. This suggests that the pathogen moved from eastern Australia to both western Australia and South Africa and then from South Africa into other countries in Africa and finally into Europe.

An interesting result emerging from the population biology study presented in chapter five, is the finding that M. nubilosa appears to employ a homothallic mating strategy. Thus, opportunities exist, in countries with limited genetic diversity of M. nubilosa, to breed for Eucalyptus resistance. From the high number of M. nubilosa haplotypes observed in Australia and South Africa, it is also important that this pathogen be added to quarantine action lists to prevent the movement of contaminated Eucalyptus germplasm. This is necessary to prevent novel M. nubilosa haplotypes from moving into new environments where susceptible Eucalyptus spp. are propagated.

Mycosphaerella nubilosa is one of the most pathogenic Mycosphaerella spp. causing MLD on Eucalyptus. Surveys of diseased Eucalyptus plantations from several countries where this pathogen occurs, have resulted in an extensive collection of M. nubilosa isolates. Recently, DNA-based studies have led to the hypothesis that M. nubilosa may represent two distinct taxa. Results of studies presented in chapter six of this thesis indicate that two distinct ITS phylogenetic lineages are represented by M. nubilosa sensu lato. These are characterized by defined geographic distributions and Eucalyptus host associations. M. nubilosa ITS lineage 1 is found exclusively in New Zealand, Tasmania and Victoria, eastern Australia occurring on E. globulus. M. nubilosa ITS lineage 2 has a broader geographic distribution and can be found in Spain, Portugal, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, eastern Australia, where it occurs on E. globulus and several other Eucalyptus spp. that are used in commercial forestry including E. nitens. It is envisaged that results presented in chapter six will lead to more extensive studies into M. nubilosa sensu lato that may result in the description of a new Mycosphaerella sp. represented by M. nubilosa ITS lineage 1.

2006 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Hunter, GC 2006, Taxonomy, phylogeny and population biology of Mycosphaerella species occurring on Eucalyptus, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-07092008-094015/ >


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