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Mycologia. 2008 Mar-Apr;100(2):236-45.

Survival of Phytophthora ramorum hyphae after exposure to temperature extremes and various humidities.

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  • 1Department of Plant Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island 02881, USA.


We examined the effect of short-term exposure to high and low temperatures and a range of relative humidity (RH) on survival of Phytophthora ramorum hyphae. Spore-free hyphal colonies were grown on dialysis squares atop V8 medium. Colonies were transferred to water agar plates positioned at 27.5-50 C on a thermal gradient plate and incubated 2.5-480 min. For low temperature trials colonies were transferred to vials of distilled water and incubated in a water bath at -5 to -25 C for 1-24 h. In the relative humidity trials hyphal colonies were transferred to sealed humidity chambers containing various concentrations of glycerin for 1-8 h. Relative humidity was 41-93% at 20 C and 43-86% at 28 C. Survival in all trials was characterized by growth from dialysis squares into V8 medium. Temperatures of 37.5-40 C were lethal to P. ramorum hyphae within several hours, and temperatures of 42.5-50 C were lethal within minutes. Exposure to 32.5 and 35 C resulted in reduced survival over 8 h, while 30 C had no effect on three of four isolates. Hyphal colonies demonstrated considerable tolerance to cold, with all isolates surviving a 24 h exposure to -5 C. Survival diminished over time at lower temperatures, however a few colonies survived 24 h exposure to -25 C. Temperature also affected the ability of hyphal colonies to withstand reduced humidity. A RH of 41-43% was lethal in 2 h at 28 C compared to 8 h at 20 C. Three of four isolates were unaffected by an 8 h exposure to 81 and 95% RH at 20 C, and 73 and 86% RH at 28 C. Isolate differences were apparent in tolerance to freezing temperatures and reduced humidity. From these results it is apparent that the cold temperatures found in the northeastern USA are not likely to prevent the establishment of P. ramorum. There is also the potential for hyphae, and presumably spores, to survive periods of high humidity on the leaf surface in the absence of free water.

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