Identification of Alternaria spp. on wheat by pathogenicity assays and sequencing

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Abstract

The pathogenicity of Alternaria spp. isolated from wheat leaves collected in regions where alternaria leaf blight has been reported was compared with that of IMI reference isolates of A. triticina and A. alternata using two durum and two bread wheat genotypes. To identify isolates putatively corresponding to A. triticina, morphological and DNA sequence analyses based on ribosomal DNA from the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region (ITS1, 5·8S rRNA gene, ITS2) and toxicity bioassays of culture filtrate were combined. Glasshouse inoculations provided reliable information to assess the pathogenicity of A. triticina isolates on wheat. Alternaria leaf blight symptoms were produced by the A. triticina isolates only on durum wheat cv. Bansi, while A. alternata, A. tenuissima and A. arborescens isolates were found to be nonpathogenic on the wheat cultivars tested. Alternaria triticina isolates were distinguished from other Alternaria species by Simmons and Roberts' sporulation pattern 6 and two to three conidia per sporulation unit associated with primary conidia bearing long (> 7 μm) apical secondary conidiophores. Phylogenetic analysis also proved effective at discriminating wheat-pathogenic A. triticina from other nonpathogenic Alternaria species. Alternaria triticina isolates yielded longer ITS sequences than A. alternata, A. tenuissima and A. arborescens isolates, leading to clear-cut differences as visualized with agarose gel electrophoresis. Additionally, only culture filtrates of A. triticina isolates caused nonspecific necrotic lesions on leaves of 3-week-old wheat plants.

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