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Rye Snow Mold-Associated Microdochium Nivale Strains Inhabiting A Common Area: Variability In Genetics, Morphotype, Extracellular Enzymatic Activities, And Virulence

Vladimir Gorshkov, Elena Osipova, Mira Ponomareva, Sergey Ponomarev, Natalia Gogoleva, Olga Petrova, Olga Gogoleva, Azat Meshcherov, Alexander Balkin, Elena Vetchinkina, Kim Potapov, Yuri Gogolev, Viktor Korzun

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Snow mold is a severe plant disease caused by psychrophilic or psychrotolerant fungi, of which Microdochium species are the most harmful. A clear understanding of Microdochium biology has many gaps; the pathocomplex and its dynamic are poorly characterized, virulence factors are unknown, genome sequences are not available, and the criteria of plant snow mold resistance are not elucidated. Our study aimed to identify comprehensive characteristics of a local community of snow mold-causing Microdochium species colonizing a particular crop culture. By using the next-generation sequencing (NGS) technique, we characterized fungal and bacterial communities of pink snow mold-affected winter rye (Secale cereale) plants within a given geographical location shortly after snowmelt. Twenty-one strains of M. nivale were isolated, classified on the basis of internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) region, and characterized by morphology, synthesis of extracellular enzymes, and virulence. Several types of extracellular enzymatic activities, the level of which had no correlations with the degree of virulence, were revealed for Microdochium species for the first time. Our study shows that genetically and phenotypically diverse M. nivale strains simultaneously colonize winter rye plants within a common area, and each strain is likely to utilize its own, unique strategy to cause the disease using “a personal” pattern of extracellular enzymes.