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SSR analysis of 2015 Puccinia graminis f. sp tritici population in Kenya

Stem rust Ug99 and related race group are one of the major constraints of wheat production in Kenya. The challenge has been largely due to rapid evolution of races within lineage defeating resistance genes resulting in boom and burst cycles. Understanding of the pathogen population structure in major wheat growing regions in Kenya gives comprehensive information of the predominant races as well as capturing new races which may have potential of causing epidemics. Such information can have significant impact on effective gene stewardship in breeding resistant varieties. Using 11 Pgt Simple Sequence Repeats (SSR) markers we analyzed 104 single uredinial-pustule samples. Allele frequency distribution ranged from 2 to 6 per locus with an average of 3.27 per locus. Observed heterozygosity ranging from 0.297-1.000 (mean HO=?0.809) was significantly different (P< 0.001) than the expected heterozygosity (0.264 to 0.507; mean HE=?0.407) indicating that the population is asexual. Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) showed that the majority of the variation occurred within the samples (98%) rather than between regions (2%). Analysis of 104 samples identified 21 multiple locus genotypes (MLGs). MLG.19 was observed across the three region analyzed that is Central Rift, North Rift and Mount Kenya while MLG.18 was predominant in Mount Kenya. Based on SSR genotypes of reference isolates, Pgt clade IV (race TKTTF) was associated with MLG.16 in Central Rift Kenya while clade I (race TTKSK) had a unique MLG.10. These results indicated two main groups corresponding to Clade I (Ug99 race group) and Clade IV (race TKTTF race group). This minimum spanning network analysis pattern points to the Pgt population being asexual due to mutation. These preliminary results suggest that Pgt population in Kenya is asexual in nature. Further analysis is being conducted to ascertain geographical structure as well as compare the results with the 2011 data.

University of Eldoret
Julius Ochuodho, Ruth Wanyera, Sridhar Bhavani, Les Szabo
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