Microsatellite DNA suggests regional structure in the fusiform rust fungus Cronartium quercuum f. sp fusiforme
This paper reports results obtained from microsatellite DNA analysis of genetic structure for populations of the native fungus Cronartium quercuum f. sp fusiforme infecting loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) over much of this host's natural range. Mostly all fusiform rust galls formed under field conditions are produced as a result of infection and colonization by haploid mycelium originating from a single basidiospore of C. quercuum fusiforme. If multiple infections do occur, then only a single haplotype must ultimately dominate and be responsible for gall formation. High levels of microsatellite variability exist in C. quercuum fusiforme and most of this variation occurs within local populations (average 88.4%). A statistically significant proportion, however, is found among populations, and the magnitude of this differentiation is closely associated with geographic distance between populations. Unweighted pair-group mean analysis and principal components analysis both indicate that at least four genetically distinct regional groups of C. quercuum fusiforme exist in the south Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains. In summary, the distribution of genetic variability in C. quercuum fusiforme is consistent with a hypothesis of at least four metapopulations with gene flow occurring less among regions than among populations within regions, and where overall levels of gene migration are related to geographic distance between populations.