Research Article

Phylogeography and population structure analysis reveals diversity by mutations in Lasiodiplodia theobromae with distinct sources of selection.


Lasiodiplodia theobromae is a plant pathogen with a worldwide distribution, with low host specificity, causing stem cankers, dieback diseases, and fruit rot in several species of plants. In coconut, this pathogen is reported as the etiological agent of "coconut leaf blight" (CLB) disease, causing several losses in fruit production. The CLB is an important disease for this crop in Brazil. In our study, we used a phylogeographic approach through the molecular characterization of the translation elongation factor 1-α (TEF1-α) to elucidate the pathogen distribution in Brazil and other countries, besides, search information about diversity sources of this pathogen in coconut palm tree at Brazilian northern, northeast, and southeast. We found that L. theobromae diversity is within populations (locations), and populations that are located closest to the center of the tropical zone have more variability as Central Africa, Brazilian Southeast, and Northeast. The widespread distribution could be in part related with long-distance dispersal via global trade of plants and plant products. The entrance route of L. theobromae in Brazil probably occurred from Africa route and not occurred once. In Brazil, the diversity of this pathogen in coconut tree could be linked to two agents of selection: high host diversity (in Northeast) and distinct management measures adopted in Southeast. These different sources of selection, mainly the mutations, could be one of the reasons that we found distinct reactions to "coconut leaf blight" chemical control in these regions.