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Genetics. 1992 Jun;131(2):297-306.

DNA fingerprinting and analysis of population structure in the chestnut blight fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica.

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  • 1Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853-5908.


We analyzed DNA fingerprints in the chestnut blight fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica, for stability, inheritance, linkage and variability in a natural population. DNA fingerprints resulting from hybridization with a dispersed moderately repetitive DNA sequence of C. parasitica in plasmid pMS5.1 hybridized to 6-17 restriction fragments per individual isolate. In a laboratory cross and from progeny from a single perithecium collected from a field population, the presence/absence of 11 fragments in the laboratory cross and 12 fragments in the field progeny set segregated in 1:1 ratios. Two fragments in each progeny set cosegregated; no other linkage was detected among the segregating fragments. Mutations, identified by missing bands, were detected for only one fragment in which 4 of 43 progeny lacked a band present in both parents; no novel fragments were detected in any progeny. All other fragments appeared to be stably inherited. Hybridization patterns did not change during vegetative growth or sporulation. However, fingerprint patterns of single conidial isolates of strains EP155 and EP67 were found to be heterogenous due to mutations that occurred during culturing in the laboratory since these strains were first isolated in 1976-1977. In a population sample of 39 C. parasitica isolates, we found 33 different fingerprint patterns with pMS5.1. Most isolates differed from all other isolates by the presence or absence of several fragments. Six fingerprint patterns each occurred twice. Isolates with identical fingerprints occurred in cankers on the same chestnut stems three times; isolates within the other three pairs were isolated from cankers more than 5 m apart. The null hypothesis of random mating in this population could not be rejected if the six putative clones were removed from the analysis. Thus, a rough estimate of the clonal fraction of this population is 6 in 39 isolates (15.4%).

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