Genetic diversity of European populations of the oak fine-root pathogen Phytophthora quercina

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Forest Pathology, Volume 35, Issue 1, p.57 - 70 (2005)


The recently discovered oak-specific fine root plant pathogen Phytophthora quercina is a significant factor in the current phase of European oak decline but its origins and ecology are poorly understood. A genome-wide analysis of 260 amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers was used to examine the genetic diversity of 72 isolates from five oak species at 28 sites in Germany (particularly Bavaria), Italy, France, Hungary and the UK. Within-site diversity was examined at 16 sites. The limited genetic diversity (within and between sites) and lack of genetic substructuring according to geographic origin or host species suggest the rapid spread of a relatively recently introduced species. Two subgroups were distinguished and these may reflect an initial introduction of isolates of two different genetic backgrounds. The relatively low genetic diversity is probably because of the predominantly inbreeding (homothallic) nature of P. quercina. However, evidence of limited intra-site diversity, temporal variation and the lack of clonality within the European population suggest that some diversity is being maintained by occasional outcrossing and turnover of a reservoir of long-lived soil-borne oospore (sexually derived) inoculum.