Changes in the mode of reproduction are frequently observed in invasive fungal populations. The ascomycete Cryphonectria parasitica, which causes Chestnut Blight, was introduced to Europe from North America and Asia in the 20th century. Previous genotyping studies based on ten microsatellite markers have identified several clonal lineages which have spread throughout western Europe, suggesting that asexuality was the main reproductive mode of this species during colonization, although occasional sexual reproduction is not excluded. Based on the whole-genome sequences alignment of 46 C. parasitica isolates from France, North America and Asia, genealogy and population structure analyses mostly confirmed these lineages as clonal. However, one of these clonal lineages showed a signal of strong recombination, suggesting different strategies of reproduction in western Europe. Signatures of several recent recombination events within all the French clonal lineages studied here were also identified, indicating that gene flow is regular between these lineages. In addition, haplotype identification of seven French clonal lineages revealed that emergences of new clonal lineages during colonization were the result of hybridization between the main expanding clonal lineages and minor haplotypes non-sequenced in the present study. This whole-genome sequencing study underlines the importance of recombination events in the invasive success of these clonal populations, and suggests that sexual reproduction may be more frequent within and between the western European clonal lineages of C. parasitica than previously assumed using few genetic markers.Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Journal: Fungal genetics and biology