DNA sequence and RFLP data reflect geographical spread and relationships of Amylostereum areolatum and its insect vectors.
The white rot fungus, Amylostereum areolatum, is best known for its symbiotic relationship with various siricid wood wasp species. In this study, the relationship between isolates of A. areolatum associated with two wood wasp species, Sirex noctilio and S. juvencus, are considered to identify possible intraspecific groups. Isolates from the northern (native) and southern (exotic) hemispheres are included to determine patterns of geographical spread and origin of introductions into the southern hemisphere. The phylogenetic relationships of these isolates to authentic isolates of A. chailletii, A. laevigatum and A. ferreum were also investigated. Sequence and RFLP analyses of the variable nuc-IGS-rDNA region provided markers to distinguish intraspecific groups within A. areolatum. Isolates of A. areolatum associated with S. noctilio and S. juvencus contained four heterogenic sequences in the DNA region analysed. These sequences occurred in one of five combinations in each isolate. Some of these sequences were unique to isolates of A. areolatum from either wasp species, while others were present in both groups. This shows the ancient and specialized evolutionary relationship that exists between these insects and fungi. Isolates from the southern hemisphere all share the same sequence group. This supports previous hypotheses that S. noctilio has spread between countries and continents of this region. At the interspecific level, the IGS-rDNA sequence analysis showed that A. ferreum and A. laevigatum are closely related to each other, and they in turn are related to A. chailletii. Amylostereum areolatum was the most distinctly defined species in the genus. This can be attributed to the obligate relationship between A. areolatum and its insect vectors. Polymerase chain reaction-RFLP analysis was also an effective tool to distinguish between the different species of Amylostereum.