Behaviour and survival of Phytophthora cambivora inoculum in soil-like substrate under different water regimes

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Forest Pathology, Blackwell Publishing Ltd,–no (2012)



Phytophthora cambivora is a soil-borne pathogen responsible for root and collar rot of woody species including Castanea spp., on which it causes Ink disease. P. cambivora does not produce chlamydospores, and the prevalence of a single mating type in nature limits the production of oogonia and oospores. Thus, survival of P. cambivora, in the absence of suitable hosts, relies mainly on sporangia, zoospores and mycelium. However, inoculum survival in soils or substrates represents a major factor in disease epidemics and is probably dependant on environmental factors. The aim of this article was to study the behaviour of P. cambivora in a peat-based substrate (PbS) in the absence of a host, under controlled conditions, and by varying the substrate water regimes. Total inoculum in the substrate was quantified by qPCR, using customized rDNA primer sets, whilst zoospores were quantified after elution, and their vitality was determined by a specific staining procedure. Inoculum infectivity was assessed using chestnut root baits. Results indicated that during the initial 48 h after infestation (matric potential, pF 1.2; 70% water content), the inoculum level increased producing microsporangia and mycelium before decreasing, regardless of the water regime applied. The number of free zoospores increased over a period of (maximum) 7 days after substrate inoculation. Vitality of zoospores declined to 45% at day 18, with no statistical differences amongst water regime treatments. Both rDNA and zoospore number increased in flooded samples at day 23, illustrating the vitality of the inoculum. Inoculum was able to infect chestnut root baits up to 45 days at pF 1.2 and 3.5, before and after flooding, but at pF 6.3, only in the absence of flooding. Although based on experiments carried out in microcosms, these results highlight an unexpected resistance of P. cambivora zoospores to environmental constraints. Furthermore, the infectivity ability of the inoculum to survive in PbS over time even in the absence of the host adds relevance to the risk of movement of soil and substrates associated with plant trading worldwide.