BACKGROUND: Molecular typing of pathogen populations is an important tool for the
development of effective strategies for disease control. Diverse molecular markers have
been used to characterize populations of Xanthomonas axonopodis pv.
manihotis (Xam), the main bacterial pathogen of cassava. Recently,
diversity and population dynamics of Xam in the Colombian Caribbean coast were
estimated using AFLPs, where populations were found to be dynamic, diverse and with
haplotypes unstable across time. Aiming to examine the current state of pathogen
populations located in the Colombian Eastern Plains, we also used AFLP markers and we
evaluated the usefulness of Variable Number Tandem Repeats (VNTRs) as new molecular
markers for the study of Xam populations.
RESULTS: The population analyses showed that AFLP and VNTR provide a detailed and congruent description of Xam populations from the Colombian Eastern Plains. These two typing strategies clearly separated strains from the Colombian Eastern Plains into distinct populations probably because of geographical distance. Although the majority of analyses were congruent between typing markers, fewer VNTRs were needed to detect a higher number of genetic populations of the pathogen as well as a higher genetic flow among sampled locations than those detected by AFLPs.
CONCLUSIONS: This study shows the advantages of VNTRs over AFLPs in the surveillance of pathogen populations and suggests the implementation of VNTRs in studies that involve large numbers of Xam isolates in order to obtain a more detailed overview of the pathogen to improve the strategies for disease control.
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