Pythium irregulare is a plant-pathogenic oomycete that causes significant damage to a variety of crops, including ornamentals and vegetables. Morphological as well as molecular studies have reported high levels of genetic diversity within P. irregulare sensu lato which has raised the question as to whether it is a single species or is actually a complex of morphologically similar (cryptic) species. In this study, we used amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) fingerprinting and DNA sequence analysis of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of the ribosomal genes (ITS region) and a portion of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase II gene and the spacer region between coxI and coxII to characterize 68 isolates of P. irregulare from the United States. The ITS sequence of a P. irregulare neotype at the CBS collection as well as ITS and coxII sequences for P. irregulare, P. spinosum, and P. sylvaticum from previous studies were included in our analysis. Cluster analysis identified a 19-isolate group (IR-II) that separated itself from the rest of the sample (IR-I). Population structure and sequence analyses supported the distinction of IR-I and IR-II and identified IR-II as P. irregulare sensu stricto. IR-I was designated Pythium sp. clade IR-I. Two insertion/deletion mutations and nine nucleotide substitutions in the ITS region and three in the sequence of coxII and the adjacent spacer region separated the two species. Additionally, they differed significantly (P > 0.01) in the frequency of 182 (77%) AFLP alleles. Gene flow results suggested that P. irregulare sensu stricto and Pythium sp. clade IR-I are cryptic species capable of exchanging favorable alleles (Nm = 0.72).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Plant Science