Study of Italian isolates of Alternaria spp.: molecular and morphological characterization and pathogenesis on apple tree

Rotondo, Francesca (2011) Study of Italian isolates of Alternaria spp.: molecular and morphological characterization and pathogenesis on apple tree, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Ecologia microbica e patologia vegetale, 23 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/3744.
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It was decided to carry out a morphological and molecular characterization of the Italian Alternaria isolatescollected from apple , and evaluate their pathogenicity and subsequently combining the data collected. The strain collection (174 isolates) was constructed by collecting material (received from extension service personnel) between June and August of 2007, 2008, and 2009. A Preliminary bioassays were performed on detached plant materials (fruit and leaf wounded and unwounded), belonging to the Golden cultivar, with two different kind of inoculation (conidial suspension and conidial filtrate). Symptoms were monitored daily and a value of pathogenicity score (P.S.) was assigned on the basis of the diameter of the necrotic area that developed. On the basis of the bioassays, the number of isolates to undergo further molecular analysis was restricted to a representative set of single spore strains (44 strains). Morphological characteristics of the colony and sporulation pattern were determined according to previous systematic work on small-spored Alternaria spp. (Pryor and Michaelides, 2002 and Hong et al., 2006). Reference strains (Alternaria alternata, Alternaria tenuissima, Alternaria arborescens and four Japanese strains of Alternaria alternata mali pathotype), used in the study were kindly provided by Prof. Barry Pryor, who allows a open access to his own fungal collection. Molecular characterization was performed combining and comparing different data sets obtained from distinct molecular approach: 1) investigation of specific loci and 2) fingerprinting based on diverse randomly selected polymorphic sites of the genome. As concern the single locus analysis, it was chosen to sequence the EndoPG partial gene and three anonymous region (OPA1-3, OPA2- and OPa10-2). These markers has revealed a powerful tool in the latter systematic works on small-spored Alternaria spp. In fact, as reported in literature small-spored Alternaria taxonomy is complicated due to the inability to resolve evolutionary relationships among the taxa because of the lack of variability in the markers commonly used in fungi systematic. The three data set together provided the necessary variation to establish the phylogenetic relationships among the Italian isolates of Alternaria spp. On Italian strains these markers showed a variable number of informative sites (ranging from 7 for EndoPg to 85 for OPA1-3) and the parsimony analysis produced different tree topologies all concordant to define A. arborescens as a mophyletic clade. Fingerprinting analysis (nine ISSR primers and eight AFLP primers combination) led to the same result: a monophyleic A. arborescens clade and one clade containing both A. tenuissima and the A. alternata strains. This first attempt to characterize Italian Alternaria species recovered from apple produced concordant results with what was already described in a similar phylogenetic study on pistachio (Pryor and Michaelides, 2002), on walnut and hazelnut (Hong et al., 2006), apple (Kang et al., 2002) and citurus (Peever et al., 2004). Together with these studies, this research demonstrates that the three morphological groups are widely distributed and occupy similar ecological niches. Furthermore, this research suggest that these Alternaria species exhibit a similar infection pattern despite the taxonomic and pathogenic differences. The molecular characterization of the pathogens is a fundamental step to understanding the disease that is spreading in the apple orchards of the north Italy. At the beginning the causal agent was considered as Alteraria alternata (Marshall and Bertagnoll, 2006). Their preliminary studies purposed a pathogenic system related to the synthesis of toxins. Experimental data of our bioassays suggest an analogous hypothesis, considering that symptoms could be induced after inoculating plant material with solely the filtrate from pathogenic strains. Moreover, positive PCR reactions using AM-toxin gene specific primers, designed for identification of apple infecting Alternaria pathovar, led to a hypothesis that a host specific toxin (toxins) were involved. It remains an intriguing challenge to discover or not if the agent of the “Italian disease” is the same of the one previously typified as Alternaria mali, casual agent of the apple blotch disease.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Rotondo, Francesca
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze agrarie
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Data di discussione
14 Aprile 2011

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