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Mycol Res. 2003 Dec;107(Pt 12):1379-91.

Phylogenetic relationships of Phytophthora ramorum, P. nemorosa, and P. pseudosyringae, three species recovered from areas in California with sudden oak death.

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USDA-ARS, 1636 East Alisal Street. Salinas, CA 93905, USA.


Sudden oak death has been an emerging disease problem in coastal California and has caused significant losses in forest ecosystems in some regions of the state. The causal agent of this disease has been described as Phytophthora ramorum with two other less aggressive species, P. nemorosa and P. pseudosyringae, recovered from some symptomatic plants. The phylogenetic relationship of these species with other members of the genus was examined by sequence alignment of 667 bp of the mitochondrially-encoded cytochrome oxidase II gene and the nuclear encoded rDNA internal transcribed spacer region. P. ramorum was most closely related to P. hibernalis and P. lateralis in trees from both regions, although the specific relationship among species differed depending on the tree. In the cox II tree these species were on a single clade with P. lateralis basal to a group containing P. ramorum and P. hibernalis. On the maximum parsimony ITS tree P. ramorum was most closely affiliated with P. lateralis and in the same clade as P. hibernalis, but with maximum likelihood analysis P. ramorum was basal to a grouping of P. hibernalis and P. lateralis. While bootstrap support was strong for the grouping of these species together, it was not for determining the relationship among them. In contrast to the cox II tree, the clade containing these three species grouped with P. cryptogea, P. drechsleri, P. erythroseptica, and P. syringae in the ITS tree. Since the same isolates of these species were used for both the cox II and ITS sequence analysis, this difference in species grouping suggests either a differential rate of evolutionary divergence for these two regions, incorrect assumptions about alignment of ITS sequences, or different evolutionary histories of the regions under study. Analysis of combined cox II and ITS data sets gave trees where the relationships among these species were the same as for the ITS tree alone, although the results of the partition homogeneity test (P=0.072) suggest caution should be used in interpretation of this data. All analyses supported a close relationship between P. ilicis, P. nemorosa and P. pseudosyringae, although the analysis did not clarify the evolutionary relationships among these three species. Interestingly, these three species had a unique 6 bp deletion in the cox II gene just before the termination codon. While there was some similarity in phylogenetic grouping of these species and morphological characteristics, this was not consistent across all comparisons in the genus. Data would suggest that P. ramorum, P. nemorosa and P. pseudosyringae are phylogenetically distinct new species and not the result of interspecific hybridization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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