Population divergence in the wheat leaf rust fungus Puccinia triticina is correlated with wheat evolution

M. Liu, N. Rodrigue, J. Kolmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Co-evolution of fungal pathogens with their host species during the domestication of modern crop varieties has likely affected the current genetic divergence of pathogen populations. The objective of this study was to determine if the evolutionary history of the obligate rust pathogen on wheat, Puccinia triticina, is correlated with adaptation to hosts with different ploidy levels. Sequence data from 15 loci with different levels of polymorphism were generated. Phylogenetic analyses (parsimony, Bayesian, maximum likelihood) showed the clear initial divergence of P. triticina isolates collected from Aegilops speltoides (the likely B genome donor of modern wheat) in Israel from the other isolates that were collected from tetraploid (AB genomes) durum wheat and hexaploid (ABD genomes) common wheat. Coalescence-based genealogy samplers also indicated that P. triticina on A. speltoides, diverged initially, followed by P. triticina isolates from durum wheat in Ethiopia and then by isolates from common wheat. Isolates of P. triticina found worldwide on cultivated durum wheat were the most recently coalesced and formed a clade nested within the isolates from common wheat. By a relative time scale, the divergence of P. triticinia as delimited by host specificity appears very recent. Significant reciprocal gene flow between isolates from common wheat and isolates from durum wheat that are found worldwide was detected, in addition to gene flow from isolates on common wheat to isolates on durum wheat in Ethiopia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-453
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Uredinales
  • coalescence
  • fungi
  • host adaptation
  • obligate parasite
  • phylogenetics


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