Potential for eradication of the exotic plant pathogens Phytophthora kernoviae and Phytophthora ramorum during composting

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Plant Pathology, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Volume 60, Number 6, p.1077–1085 (2011)




Phytophthora pseudosyringae, Rhododendron ponticum, temperature, Vaccinium myrtillus


Temperature and exposure time effects on Phytophthora kernoviae and Phytophthora ramorum viability were examined in flasks of compost and in a large-scale composting system containing plant waste. Cellophane, rhododendron leaf and peat-based inoculum of P. kernoviae and P. ramorum isolates were used in flasks; naturally infected leaves were inserted into a large-scale system. Exposures of 5 and 10 days respectively at a mean temperature of 35°C in flask and large-scale composts reduced P. kernoviae and P. ramorum inocula to below detection limits using semi-selective culturing. Although P. ramorum was undetectable after a 1-day exposure of inoculum to compost at 40°C in flasks, it survived on leaves exposed to a mean temperature of 40·9°C for 5 days in a large-scale composting system. No survival of P. ramorum was detected after exposure of infected leaves for 5 days to a mean temperature of >=41·9°C (32·8°C for P. kernoviae) or for 10 days at >=31·8°C (25·9°C for Phytophthora pseudosyringae on infected bilberry stems) in large-scale systems. Fitted survival probabilities of P. ramorum on infected leaves exposed in a large-scale system for 5 days at 45°C or for 10 days at 35°C were <3%, for an average initial infection level of leaves of 59·2%. RNA quantification to measure viability was shown to be unreliable in environments that favour RNA preservation: high levels of ITS1 RNA were recovered from P. kernoviae- and P. ramorum-infected leaves exposed to composting plant wastes at >53°C, when all culture results were negative.