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Biological and genetic characterisation of Phoma macrostoma isolates with bioherbicidal activity

Pitt, W.M., Bailey, K.L., Fu, Y.B., Peterson, G.W. (2012). Biological and genetic characterisation of Phoma macrostoma isolates with bioherbicidal activity, 22(7), 813-835.


The fungus Phoma macrostoma Mont. isolate 94-44B was registered as a bioherbicide for control of broadleaved weeds in Canada and the USA in 2011 and 2012, respectively. To obtain the registrations, the fungus had to be characterised both biologically and genetically. The objectives of this study were to demonstrate that bioherbicidal activity was associated with specific genetic markers and to determine whether bioherbicidal activity was a general trait of the species or only selected isolates. A collection of 64 isolates of P. macrostoma was established. A greenhouse bioassay and bioherbicidal-specific primers were used to determine bioherbicidal activity of all isolates. Only isolates originating from Canada thistle demonstrated the ability to reduce dandelion seedlings and display the 853 bp amplicon for the bioherbicidal-specific primer. Bioherbicidal isolates were consistently differentiated from all other isolates with two main genotypic groupings (I and II) arising from internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP) sequence analyses. Using AFLP, two biotypes of bioherbicidal isolates were also differentiated by the presence or absence of an AFLP marker at a single polymorphic locus. The genetic divergence among the bioherbicidal and nonbioherbicidal isolates of P. macrostoma was only 2.21% which was lower than that reported for other related Phoma sp. Other than the bioherbicidal trait, there was no apparent affiliation of the genetics with known varietal types, host or geographic origin. ITS sequence analysis and AFLP fingerprinting may be used as tools to detect bioherbicidal isolates of P. macrostoma. © 2012 Copyright Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada.

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