The influence of time, soil moisture and exogenous factors on the survival potential of oospores and chlamydospores of Phytophthora cinnamomi

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Forest Pathology, Volume n/a, p.e12637 (2020)



dormancy, long-term survival, phytophthora dieback, spore viability, vital stain


The mode of persistence of Phytophthora cinnamomi, a highly aggressive soil- and water-borne pathogen, remains unclear. This study investigated the survival of viable oospores and chlamydospores of P. cinnamomi when present as free propagules in untreated soil, or in soil subject to four exogenous treatments: smoke water, fish emulsion and two fungicides (ridomil and furalaxyl). The exogenous treatments were applied under moist and dry soil conditions. Spore viability was determined by the thiazolyl blue tetrazolium bromide (MTT) staining technique, with a qPCR assay used to compare general patterns of decline. Over 96% of oospores lost viability over a period of 48 weeks irrespective of soil moisture conditions. The mean percentage viability for oospores decreased from 91% at time zero to 72, 35, 20 and 1% after 6, 12, 24 and 48 weeks, respectively. Reduction in viability of chlamydospores was more rapid than oospores, with viability declining from 92% to zero after 12 weeks. There was no significant difference between untreated soil and the exogenous treatments. The RNA-based qPCR assay indicated a strong presence of viable oospores of P. cinnamomi up to week 12 for moist soil and week 3 for dry soil, but thereafter failed to detect RNA even though viable oospores could be detected by MTT staining. Based on the MTT staining, this study indicated that viability of P. cinnamomi oospores may be entirely lost within 1 year and that of chlamydospores within 3 months for the soil type tested. Therefore, oospores and chlamydospores when existing as free propagules in soil appear unlikely to be involved in the long-term survival of P. cinnamomi.