Population Genetic Structure and Chemotype Diversity of Fusarium graminearum Populations from Wheat in Canada and North Eastern United States

Abbot O. Oghenekaro, Maria A. Oviedo-Ludena, Mitra Serajazari, Xiben Wang, Maria A. Henriquez, Nancy G. Wenner, Gretchen A. Kuldau, Alireza Navabi, Hadley R. Kutcher, W. G.Dilantha Fernando

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Fusarium head blight (FHB) is a major disease in wheat causing severe economic losses globally by reducing yield and contaminating grain with mycotoxins. In Canada, Fusarium graminearum is the principal etiological agent of FHB in wheat, producing mainly the trichothecene mycotoxin, deoxynivalenol (DON) and its acetyl derivatives (15-acetyl deoxynivalenol (15ADON) and 3-acetyl deoxynivalenol (3ADON)). Understanding the population biology of F. graminearum such as the genetic variability, as well as mycotoxin chemotype diversity among isolates is important in developing sustainable disease management tools. In this study, 570 F. graminearum isolates collected from commercial wheat crops in five geographic regions in three provinces in Canada in 2018 and 2019 were analyzed for population diversity and structure using 10 variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) markers. A subset of isolates collected from the north-eastern United States was also included for comparative analysis. About 75% of the isolates collected in the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba were 3ADON indicating a 6-fold increase in Saskatchewan and a 2.5-fold increase in Manitoba within the past 15 years. All isolates from Ontario and those collected from the United States were 15ADON and isolates had a similar population structure. There was high gene diversity (H = 0.803–0.893) in the F. graminearum populations in all regions. Gene flow was high between Saskatchewan and Manitoba (Nm = 4.971–21.750), indicating no genetic differentiation between these regions. In contrast, less gene flow was observed among the western provinces and Ontario (Nm = 3.829–9.756) and USA isolates ((Nm = 2.803–6.150). However, Bayesian clustering model analyses of trichothecene chemotype subpopulations divided the populations into two clusters, which was correlated with trichothecene types. Additionally, population cluster analysis revealed there was more admixture of isolates among isolates of the 3ADON chemotypes than among the 15ADON chemotype, an observation that could play a role in the increased virulence of F. graminearum. Understanding the population genetic structure and mycotoxin chemotype variations of the pathogen will assist in developing FHB resistant wheat cultivars and in mycotoxin risk assessment in Canada.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number180
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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