Genomic regions associated with virulence in Setosphaeria turcica identified by linkage mapping in a biparental population

Pummi Singh, Shun Yuan Huang, Alvaro G. Hernandez, Pragya Adhikari, Tiffany M. Jamann, Santiago X. Mideros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Northern corn leaf blight (NCLB) and sorghum leaf blight (SLB) are significant diseases of maize and sorghum, respectively, caused by the filamentous fungus Setosphaeria turcica. Strains of S. turcica are typically host-specific and infect either maize or sorghum. Host specificity in this pathogen is attributed to a single locus for maize and a second distinct locus for sorghum. To identify the genetic basis of host specificity in S. turcica, we generated a biparental population of S. turcica by crossing strains specific to maize and sorghum, phenotyped the population for leaf blight on sorghum and maize, genotyped the population to create a linkage map of S. turcica, and located candidate virulence regions. A total of 190 ascospores from 35 pseudothecia were isolated from the cross of maize and sorghum-specific strains. Greenhouse phenotyping of the biparental population (n = 144) showed independent inheritance of virulence, as indicated by a 1:1:1:1 segregation for virulence to maize, sorghum, both maize and sorghum, and avirulence to both crops. The population and host-specific parent strains were genotyped using genome skim sequencing on an Illumina NovaSeq 6000 platform resulting in over 780 million reads. A total of 32,635 variants including single nucleotide polymorphisms and indels were scored. There was evidence for a large deletion in the sorghum-specific strain of S. turcica. A genetic map consisting of 17 linkage groups spanning 3,069 centimorgans was constructed. Virulence to sorghum and maize mapped on distinct linkage groups with a significant QTL detected for virulence to maize. Furthermore, a single locus each for the in vitro traits hyphal growth rate and conidiation were identified and mapped onto two other linkage groups. In vitro traits did not correlate with in planta virulence complexity, suggesting that virulence on both hosts does not incur a fitness cost. Hyphal growth rate and conidiation were negatively correlated, indicating differences in hyphal growth versus dispersal ability for this pathogen. Identification of genetic regions underlying virulence specificity and saprotrophic growth traits in S. turcica provides a better understanding of the S. turcica- Andropogoneae pathosystem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103655
JournalFungal Genetics and Biology
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Exserohilum turcicum
  • Linkage mapping
  • Maize
  • Setosphaeria turcica
  • SkimGBS
  • Sorghum
  • Virulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Microbiology


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