SUMMARY: isolates from several insect hosts and from various sugar cane growing areas of Queensland, Australia, were examined for genetic diversity using random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers. Thirty isolates of var. and one isolate of var. were examined. Ten randomly chosen 10mer or 11mer primers were used and RAPD banding patterns were compared. Thirty distinct genotypes could be distinguished amongst the 31 isolates tested on the basis of RAPD patterns. Six of the isolates classified as var. exhibited closer similarity to the var. isolate than to other strains tested. Isolates exhibiting similar (> 80 % similarity) RAPD profiles tended to be isolated from the same geographic area and evidence for the persistence of particular fungal genotypes in specific geographical localities was obtained. Pathogenicity assays suggested that, in some instances, RAPD groupings may also indicate insect host range. The mean similarity amongst isolates measured by band sharing in all pairwise comparisons was 41% and the most distinct pair of isolates shared only 9% of their RAPD bands. We conclude that the isolates tested belonging to the species , as assessed on morphological grounds, represent a very diverse genetic group. The results also suggest that RAPD markers may be useful for the tracking of specific biocontrol strains in the field.


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