PHYTOPARASITICA, vol.45, no.5, pp.719-728, 2017 (SCI-Expanded)
Alternaria genus includes many plant pathogens on numerous hosts, causing leaf spots, rots and blights. Alternaria blight has been observed as one of the important fungal diseases of pistachio (Pistacia vera L.) as well as its wild relatives (P. terebinthus, P. lentiscus, P. khinjuk, P. atlantica, P. mutica) in Turkey. Alternaria species were sampled from Pistacia spp. hosts from different geographic regions in Turkey during field trips in late spring to early fall of 2013. Alternaria blight symptoms were observed mainly on fruits and rarely on leaves. Four hundred and twenty two of the isolates were morphologically defined as A. alternata, A. tenuissima, A. arborescens and also intermediate morpho-species between A. alternata/A. arborescens. Pathogenicity of the isolates was confirmed with host inoculations on detached fruits. Mating types of 270 isolates of Alternaria spp. from the collection were identified using a PCR-based mating type assay that amplifies either a MAT1-1 or a MAT1-2 fragment from the mating locus. Although a strongly clonal population structure was expected due to the putative asexual reproduction of these fungi, both idiomorphs were detected at equal frequencies at several different spatial scales. The distribution of mating types within each geographic region, within host species as well as in overall collection was not significantly different from 1:1. Amplified fragments of partial idiomorph sequences were obtained for representative isolates. Parsimony trees were depicted based on sequence data of mating type genes for these representative isolates as well as some other Alternaria species obtained by Genebank. Several point mutations presented a few clusters which are supported by high bootsrapped values. The Alternaria blight disease agents both from cultivated and wild hosts were pathogenic on pistachio which may cause difficulties to control the disease because of extensity of pathogen sources. Besides, equal mating type distribution of the pathogen at both geographic and host species levels suggests a potential for sexual reproduction of Alternaria spp. in Turkey.