Geographical distribution of a specific mitochondrial haplotype of Zymoseptoria tritici
Severity of disease caused by the fungus Zymoseptoria tritici throughout world cereal growing regions has elicited much debate on the potential evolutionary mechanism conferring high adaptability of the pathogen to diverse climate conditions and different wheat hosts (Triticum durum and T. aestivum). Specific mitochondrial DNA sequence was used to investigate geographic distribution of the type 4 haplotype (mtRFLP4) within 1363 isolates of Z. tritici originating from 21 countries. The mtRFLP4 haplotype was detected from both durum and bread wheat hosts with greater frequency on durum wheat. The distribution of mtRFLP4 was limited to populations sampled from the Mediterranean and the Red Sea region. Greater frequencies of mtRFLP4 were found in Tunisia (87%) and Algeria (60%). The haplotype was absent within European, Australian, North and South American populations except Argentina. While alternative hypotheses such as climatic adaptation could not be ruled out, it is postulated that mtRFLP4 originated in North Africa (e.g. Tunisia or Algeria) as an adaptation to durum wheat as the prevailing cereal crop. The specialized haplotype has subsequently spread as indicated by lower frequency of occurrence in the surrounding Mediterranean countries and on bread wheat hosts.
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