Puccinia striiformis population structure in Nepal and Bhutan in comparison with Himalayan population from Pakistan
The Himalayan region of Pakistan and China has been shown to be the centre of diversity of Puccinia striiformis, however, little is known about the Eastern part of the Himalayas. We studied the genetic structure of P. striiformis from Nepal and Bhutan in comparison with Pakistan through microsatellite genotyping of 66 isolates from Nepal (35 isolates) and Bhutan (31 isolates) collected during 2015 and 2016. Genetic analyses revealed a recombinant and highly diverse population structure in Bhutan and Nepal. A high level of genotypic diversity was observed for both Bhutan (0.92) and Nepal (0.67) with the detection of 53 distinct multilocus genotypes (MLGs) in the overall population; 28 for Bhutan and 27 for Nepal. Mean number of alleles per locus was higher in Bhutan (3.33) than Nepal (3.11), while the gene diversity was higher in Nepal (0.4279) than Bhutan (0.3552). A non-significant difference between the observed and the expected heterozygosity in both populations further confirmed the recombinant structure. Analyses of population subdivision revealed a low divergence between Nepal and Bhutan (FST=0.1009), along with the detection of certain common MLGs in both populations. The overall population was clearly divided into six genetic groups, with no geographical structure, confirmed by the distribution of multilocus genotypes over two countries, suggesting a potential role of migration. Comparison with the Pakistani P. striiformis population suggested a high genotypic diversity in Nepal (0.933) and Bhutan (0.959), though lower than the previously reported from Himalayan region of Pakistan (Mansehra; 0.997). The overall high diversity and recombination signature suggested the potential role of recombination in the eastern Himalayan region (Nepal and Bhutan), which needs to be considered during host resistance deployment and in the context of aerial dispersal of the pathogen.