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Genomic DNA from 81 isolates of Gremmeniella abietina collected from eleven plantations each of Pinus sylvestris and Pinus contorta in northern Sweden, was studied using RAPD markers. The DNA variation between and within populations and the race and type distribution of G. abietina populations causing symptoms similar to those of the North American race were studied. The degree of genetic similarity was greater among G. abietina isolates from the same geographical areas than among isolates from different geographical areas, regardless of whether they were isolated from P. sylvestris or P. contorta. RAPD variation was greatest in the central parts of northern Sweden, suggesting that sexual reproduction has been somewhat more important there than further north or south. Only the RAPD fragments characteristic of the EU race of G. abietina were found in the material tested. The RAPD pattern described as characteristic of the northern type within the EU race was identified in 62 % of the isolates. Divergence from the expected profile was due to differences in occurrence of fragments OPA12-1400 and 12-1500. This indicates that this part of the RAPD profile might not be treated as diagnostic for the northern type. A conclusion of practical importance is that there is a considerable risk of G. abietina spreading from infected P. contorta plantations to adjacent areas with indigenous P. sylvestris regeneration, and vice versa, owing to the indicated lack of host-specificity of the pathogen. It is possible, however, that host-specific strains exist, but do not differ in their RAPD profiles.
by Alfred E. Szmidt