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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2011 Feb;58(2):192-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2010.12.002. Epub 2010 Dec 9.

Evolutionary history of the mitochondrial genome in Mycosphaerella populations infecting bread wheat, durum wheat and wild grasses.

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Plant Pathology Group, Institute of Integrative Biology, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


Plant pathogens emerge in agro-ecosystems following different evolutionary mechanisms over different time scales. Previous analyses based on sequence variation at six nuclear loci indicated that Mycosphaerella graminicola diverged from an ancestral population adapted to wild grasses during the process of wheat domestication approximately 10,500 years ago. We tested this hypothesis by conducting coalescence analyses based on four mitochondrial loci using 143 isolates that included four closely related pathogen species originating from four continents. Pathogen isolates from bread and durum wheat were included to evaluate the emergence of specificity towards these hosts in M. graminicola. Although mitochondrial and nuclear genomes differed greatly in degree of genetic variability, their coalescence was remarkably congruent, supporting the proposed origin of M. graminicola through host tracking. The coalescence analysis was unable to trace M. graminicola host specificity through recent evolutionary time, indicating that the specificity towards durum or bread wheat emerged following the domestication of the pathogen on wheat.

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