Use of a trap garden to find additional genetically distinct isolates of the rust fungus Phragmidium violaceum to enhance biological control of European blackberry in Australia
Morin, L and Evans, KJ and Jourdan, M and Gomez, DR and Scott, JK, Use of a trap garden to find additional genetically distinct isolates of the rust fungus Phragmidium violaceum to enhance biological control of European blackberry in Australia, European Journal of Plant Pathology, 131, (2) pp. 289-303. ISSN 0929-1873 (2011) [Refereed Article]
Abstract Biological control agents can be more effective if their populations are genetically diverse, particularly when the target invasive plant comprises
a range of genotypes with different susceptibilities and occurs across various microclimates. We report on the use of an efficient approach to find, in the
native range, diverse isolates of a rust fungus for biological control. An outdoor trap garden containing various clones of invasive European blackberry
(Rubus fruticosus agg.) collected in Australia, each with a different DNA phenotype, was established in France. Within 4 weeks of establishment, the leaf-rust fungus Phragmidium violaceum was recovered from all clones in the garden. Molecular analyses of eight recovered and purified isolates of the fungus from the garden revealed that they were genetically distinct from each other and from isolates already present in Australia. These garden isolates also represented a subset of the population existing in Europe, when compared to isolates collected about 30 years ago. Two pathogenicity phenotypes were observed among the garden isolates in bioassays consisting of representative blackberry clones from Australia, and together the isolates were capable of infecting all clones. Results from host-specificity tests on key non-target plant species closely related to European blackberry concurred with previous findings that the leaf-rust fungus does not pose a threat to commercial blackberry cultivars and Rubus species native to Australia. The release and establishment of the garden isolates in Australia has potential to increase the genetic diversity and evolutionary potential of the leaf-rust fungus for more effective biological control.