Susceptibility to the rare Phytophthora tentaculata and to the widespread Phytophthora cactorum is consistent with host ecology and history

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Forest Pathology, p.e12446 (2018)



We evaluated the susceptibility of three California endemic plant species Heteromeles arbutifolia, Platanus racemosa and Quercus agrifolia to the two congeneric soilborne pathogen species: Phytophthora tentaculata and Phytophthora cactorum. These pathogens were recently introduced in ecosystems east of the San Francisco Bay, where the three plant species above are dominant. Phytophthora cactorum has a worldwide distribution inclusive of California, and a broad host range. Phytophthora tentaculata, in contrast, is suspected to be a “new” exotic to California and has been described on relatively few hosts. By separately challenging the roots and the stems of the three plant species above, we show that: (a) Both were equally pathogenic, but the type of disease differed based on host; (b) disease was consistent with host ecology and with previous disease reports, even if caused by different Phytophthora spp. and; (c) there were intraspecific differences in virulence. This study provides the following significant information regarding the management and early modelling of polyphagous soilborne Phytophthoras: (a) Endemic species can be as problematic as recently introduced exotics. (b) Multiple introductions should be avoided due to varying virulence levels among genotypes. (c) Riparian species like P. racemosa may develop disease tolerance in their root systems, but remain susceptible in their aerial portions, and thus, diseases could be facilitated by flooding or splash of infectious structures of soilborne pathogens onto aerial plant portions.