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Mycol Res. 2005 Sep;109(Pt 9):983-91.

Cloning and sequence analysis of the MAT-B (MAT-2) genes from the three Dutch elm disease pathogens, Ophiostoma ulmi, O. novo-ulmi, and O. himal-ulmi.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK.


There were two successive pandemics of Dutch Elm Disease (DED) in Europe, parts of Asia and North America in the last century, caused by two ascomycete fungal species, Ophiostoma ulmi and O. novo-ulmi. A third DED species, O. himal-ulmi, was later discovered in the Himalayas. For each of these three species, we now report on the cloning and analysis of a 2.2 kb sequence containing the coding region and 5' and 3' flanking sequences of the mating type B (MAT-B) gene, which is involved in the control of sexual compatibility. The amino acid sequence of the single protein encoded by the gene for each species contained a conserved DNA-binding motif called the high mobility group (HMG) box which showed significant sequence similarity to corresponding sequences in many ascomycete MAT-2 genes. Phylogenetic trees constructed from the MAT-B (renamed MAT-2) nucleotide and derived amino acid sequences showed distinct clades corresponding to the three Ophiostoma species and a clear separation of the O. novo-ulmi clade into the two subspecies americana and novo-ulmi. The 3' flanking regions have been shown to contain variable numbers of repeated oligonucleotide sequences, the number of which is species-specific and readily distinguished by a simple PCR assay.

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