Surveys of soil and water reveal a goldmine of Phytophthora diversity in South African natural ecosystems

Publication Type:

Journal Article


IMA Fungus, Volume 4, Issue 1, p.123 - 131 (2013)



Phytophthora species are well-known as destructive plant pathogens, especially in natural ecosystems. It is ironic, therefore, how little is known regarding the Phytophthora diversity in South African natural woody ecosystems. In this study, Phytophthora species were isolated using standard baiting techniques from 182 soil and water samples and these were identified based on ITS and coxI sequence data. The 171 resulting Phytophthora isolates resided in 14 taxa including six known species (P. multivora, P. capensis, P. cryptogea, P. frigida, P. cinnamomi, P. cinnamomi var. parvispora), the known but as yet unnamed Phytophthora sp. PgChlamydo, P. sp. emzansi, and P. sp. Kununurra and five novel taxa referred to as P. sp. stellaris, P. sp. Umtamvuna P. sp. canthium, P. sp. xWS, P. sp. xHennops. Four of the new taxa were found exclusively in water and two of these are hybrids. The most commonly isolated species from soil was P. multivora, a species recently described from Western Australia. Phytophthora frigida was isolated for the first time from stream water. With the exception of P. cinnamomi, very little is known regarding the biology, epidemiology or origin of Phytophthora in South Africa.