Phylogeographic distribution of Asperisporium caricae isolates in brazilian southeastern and northeastern coastal regions
Papaya (Carica papaya L.) is one of the main tropical fruits consumed in Brazil. The country is also one of the main papaya exporters, but one of the factors hindering its production lies on foliar diseases such as papaya black spot, which is caused by fungus Asperisporium caricae. This pathogen is widely distributed in the main producing regions of the Brazilian coastal area. Phylogeographic studies contribute to the knowledge about the genetic diversity and geographical distribution of genealogical lineages (haplotypes) and help better understanding the reproductive and evolutionary processes of closely related species or of a single species. Such information is useful in studies about phytopathogenic fungi because it enables identifying the most prevalent genealogical lineages in a given location, as well as inferring dispersal routes and providing information on the origin and frequency of exotic material introduction events. Results in this type of study can significantly help developing new disease control strategies. Literature still lacks studies on the Papaya x A. caricae pathosystem. Based on the phylogenetic and phylogeographic analysis applied to nucleotide sequences of the Internal transcribed spacer (ITS) gene, we herein address the genealogical and dispersal events recorded for this pathogen in order to better understand its evolution in, and adaptation to, Brazilian orchards. Three haplotypes were identified among the A. caricae isolates; their distribution was mostly related to the geographic distance between sample collection regions rather than to any reproductive or evolutionary processes presented by the species. The low variability among the herein studied isolates may result from the physiological specialization (survival exclusively associated with the host plant) and from the regional transport of contaminated fruits (with lesions and spores), besides the low contribution of reproductive events, which corroborate the lack of knowledge about the sexual stages of A. caricae.