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Title: Colletotrichum acutatum sensu lato : from diversity study to genome analysis
Author: Baroncelli, Riccardo
ISNI:       0000 0004 2748 7728
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2012
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Colletotrichum acutatum sensu lato includes a number of important pathogens that cause economically significant losses of various crops. The C. acutatum species complex has a wide host range in both domesticated and wild plant species, and its capability to infect different types of hosts such as insects has also been described. Members belonging to this complex are able to develop three different types of interaction with plant hosts including biotrophic, necrotrophic and hemibiotrophic infections and are also capable of surviving on weeds and non-hosts without causing visible symptoms. They are mainly asexual, but some have a teleomorphic state called Glomerella and can be either homothallic or heterothallic. The sexual behaviour in Glomerella is more complicated than in most ascomycetes, and strains within the same species do not show a typical MAT1-1/2 system. The overall aim of this study was to gain an improved understanding of the relationships between the genetic diversity of global populations, host association patterns, geographic distribution and biological and pathological attributes. A database (CaITSdb) containing more than 800 rRNA sequences deposited in GenBank was created along with key biogeographic information, and the data have been analysed in order to investigate genetic diversity and distribution of sub-populations and their evolutionary relationships. The combined evidence was used to assemble a core collection of 120 isolates that are representative of the diversity in host preference, geographic origin, mating behaviour and molecular genetic variation. A multi-locus sequencing approach (based on four neutral loci) has been used to evaluate phylogenetic relationships amongst the isolates in the core collection. A strong relationship was observed between various genetic groups distinguished and their mating behaviour, geographic distribution and host association patterns. Oceania has been identified as a likely geographic origin of this pathogen, as the highest level of variability and groups related to a hypothetical ancestral population are mainly distributed in these countries. All homothallic isolates capable of producing perithecia belonged to the same genetic group A7; whereas all self-sterile heterothallic isolates were classified as either A3 or A5. Isolates derived from the same host tend to cluster together into genetic groups or sub-populations. This evidence is generally in agreement with recent published work on taxonomic re-assessment of Colletotrichum acutatum sensu lato, which indicates at least fifteen new species. This study has provided the evidence for the occurrence of three distinct genetic groups on strawberry in the UK corresponding to three species reported in the literature namely, C. nymphaeae, C. fioriniae and C. godetiae. Isolates belonging to the genetic groups that correspond to C. nymphaeae and C. fioriniae appeared to be the most aggressive on strawberry, followed by C. godetiae, and C. simmondsii (not found in the UK). Representative isolates of other species were less aggressive. The first whole genome sequence an isolate (A9 = C. simmondsii) from the C. acutatum sensu species complex was assembled and analysed using a range of bioinformatics algorithms. An isolate of C. simmondsii was chosen based on its wide host range including strawberry and the phylogeographic position. Genome analyses enabled prediction and annotation of the whole gene set at 13549 including 6 % unique to this species. The data also suggested an interesting expansion of several gene families, such as those encoding carbohydrate-active enzymes, secondary metabolites pathways and effectors which could be associated with the wide host range. The new knowledge and resources developed with the genome analyses along with the results of the population level diversity studies provide a platform for future comparative and functional genomics investigations to advance this research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: QH426 Genetics ; QK Botany