Setosphaeria turcica causes northern leaf blight, an economically important disease of maize throughout the world. Survey collections of S. turcica isolates from 1974 to 1994 provided a unique opportunity to examine temporal diversity in the eastern United States. Two hundred forty-two isolates of S. turcica from maize were studied with random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers, mating type, and virulence on maize differential inbred lines with known Ht resistance genes to examine changes over time. One hundred forty-nine RAPD haplotypes were identified. Nearly 20% of haplotypes recurred in more than one year. Race 0 isolates declined in frequency from 83% in 1974 to near 50% in the 1990s, most likely in response to the widespread deployment of Ht1 in commercial maize hybrids. Races 23 and 23N were present in the collection at low levels throughout the study period and were also found among isolates from Virginia in 1957. The frequency of MAT1-2 isolates increased sharply after 1979 and was associated with the emergence of race 1 during the same period. RAPD markers were used to investigate the genetic diversity among a subset of isolates collected in the United States from 1976 to 1982, the period in which this dramatic shift in race frequency occurred. Multilocus haplotypes were not exclusively associated with known races of S. turcica. Based on shared haplotypes and cluster analysis, race 1 isolates share greater similarity with race 0 than with 23 or 23N isolates, indicating race 1 probably evolved from multiple lineages of race 0. Sorghum spp.-infecting isolates share greater similarity with one another than with maize-infecting isolates and represent a distinct subgroup.
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