Evolutionary relationships between Rhynchosporium lolii sp. nov. and other Rhynchosporium species on grass.

Kevin M. King, Jon S. West, Paul S. Dyer, Patrick C. Brunner, Bruce D.L. Fitt

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The fungal genus Rhynchosporium (causative agent of leaf blotch) contains several host-specialised species, including R. commune (colonising barley and brome-grass), R. agropyri (couch-grass), R. secalis (rye and triticale) and the more distantly related R. orthosporum (cocksfoot). This study used molecular fingerprinting, multilocus DNA sequence data, conidial morphology, host range tests and scanning electron microscopy to investigate the relationship between Rhynchosporium species on ryegrasses, both economically important forage grasses and common wild grasses in many cereal growing areas, and other plant species. Two different types of Rhynchosporium were found on ryegrasses in the UK. Firstly, there were isolates of R. commune that were pathogenic to both barley and Italian ryegrass. Secondly, there were isolates of a new species, here named R. lolii, that were pathogenic only to ryegrass species. R. lolii was most closely related to R. orthosporum, but exhibited clear molecular, morphological and host range differences. The species was estimated to have diverged from R. orthosporum ca. 5735 years before the present. The colonisation strategy of all of the different Rhynchosporium species involved extensive hyphal growth in the sub-cuticular regions of the leaves. Finally, new species-specific PCR diagnostic tests were developed that could distinguish between these five closely related Rhynchosporium species.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere72536
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
Early online date16 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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