Metabarcoding and development of new Real-time specific assays reveal Phytophthora species diversity in Holm Oak forests in eastern Spain

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Plant Pathology, Volume 66, p.115–123 (2017)



The evergreen holm oaks (Quercus ilex subsp. ilex and Q. ilex subsp. ballota) are the most representative tree species in the Iberian peninsula and the main tree species in oak-rangeland ecosystems (dehesas). Oak decline in western, central and southern parts of Spain has been associated with root rot caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi for decades. However, Phytophthora species such as P.  quercina and P. psychrophila have recently been found associated with Quercus decline in eastern Spain where calcareous soils are predominant. Soil and root samples from two Quercus forests presenting decline symptoms in two different geographical areas in eastern Spain (Carrascar de la Font Roja and Vallivana) were analysed by amplicon pyrosequencing. Metabarcoding analysis showed Phytophthora species diversity, and revealed that an uncultured Phytophthora taxon, named provisionally Phytophthora taxon ballota, was the predominant species in both areas. In addition, a real-time PCR assay, based on the pyrosequencing results, was developed for the detection of this uncultured Phytophthora taxon, and also for the detection of P. quercina. TaqMan assays were tested on soil and root samples, and on Phytophthora pure cultures. The new assays showed high specificity and were consistent with metabarcoding results. A new real-time PCR protocol is proposed to evaluate the implication of different Phytophthora spp. in oak decline in eastern Spain.


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