Re-evaluation of Phytophthora species isolated during 30 years of vegetation health surveys in western Australia using molecular techniques

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Plant Disease, Volume 93, Issue 3, p.215 - 223 (2009)


For 30 years, large-scale aerial photography has been used to map the extent of Phytophthora dieback disease in native forests in the southwest of Western Australia, with validation of the observations involving routine testing of soil and root samples for the presence of Phytophthora cinnamomi. In addition to P. cinnamomi, six morpho-species have been identified using this technique: P. citricola, P. megasperma, P. cryptogea, P. drechsleri, P. nicotianae, and P. boehmeriae. In recent years, many new Phytophthora species have been described worldwide, often with similar morphology to existing species; thus, as many of the isolates collected in Western Australia have been difficult to identify based on morphology, molecular identification of the morpho-species is required. Based on amplification of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of the rDNA gene, sequence data of more than 230 isolates were compared with those of existing species and undescribed taxa. P. inundata, P. asparagi, P. taxon PgChlamydo, P. taxon personii, and P. taxon niederhauserii were identified based on sequence data. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that nine potentially new and undescribed taxa can be distinguished. Several of the new taxa are morphologically indistinguishable from species such as P. citricola, P. drechsleri, and P. megasperma. In some cases, the new taxa are closely related to species with similar morphology (e.g., P.sp.4 and P. citricola). However, the DNA sequences of other new taxa such as P.sp.3 and P.sp.9 show that they are not closely related to morphologically similar species P. drechsleri and P. megasperma, respectively. Most of the new taxa have been associated with dying Banksia spp., while P.sp.2 and P.sp.4 have also been isolated from dying Eucalyptus marginata (jarrah). Some taxa (P.sp.3, 6, and 7) appear to have limited distribution, while others like P.sp.4 are widespread.


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