Anthracnose (Colletotrichum spp.) is an important disease of olive fruits. Diversity and biogeographic relationships of the olive anthracnose pathogens in the Algarve (Portugal) were investigated, along with host association patterns and disease levels during 2004–2007, to test the hypothesis that this region is a host–pathogen diversity hot spot. Diverse Colletotrichum acutatum and Colletotrichum gloeosporioides populations were identified based on rRNA-internal transcribed spacer and partial β-tubulin 2 gene sequences of 95 isolates. Spatial and temporal variations in the occurrence of the eight genetic entities of the pathogens were linked to olive biogeography. Disease occurrence patterns suggest that C. acutatum populations are more stable pathogens, while C. gloeosporioides populations appear to be more influenced by favourable conditions. Three unique C. acutatum populations were identified, but none of the eight populations were dominant, with the most frequent type representing only 27%. Thus, the population structure of olive anthracnose pathogens in the Algarve is distinct from other parts of Portugal and other world locations, where only one or two genetic entities are dominant. This pattern and level of genetic diversity in a restricted area, where oleaster (wild olive tree), ancient landraces and modern cultivars of olive occur in close proximity, suggests the Algarve as a centre of diversity of the anthracnose pathogens and corroborates recent work suggesting western Mediterranean as an important centre of olive diversity and domestication
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