Genome-wide sequencing of Phytophthora lateralis reveals genetic variation among isolates from Lawson cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) in Northern Ireland


Correspondence: David J. Studholme, Geoffrey Pope Building Biosciences, University of Exeter, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QD, UK. Tel.: +44 (0) 1392 724678; fax: +44 (0) 1392 263434; e-mail:


Phytophthora lateralis is a fungus-like (oomycete) pathogen of trees in the family Cupressaceae, including Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (Lawson cypress or Port Orford cedar). Known in North America since the 1920s, presumably having been accidentally introduced from its assumed East Asian centre of origin, until recently, this pathogen has not been identified causing disease in Europe except for a few isolated outbreaks. However, since 2010, there have been several reports of infection of C. lawsoniana by P. lateralis in the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland. We sequenced the genomes of four isolates of P. lateralis from two sites in Northern Ireland in 2011. Comparison with the closely related tree and shrub pathogen P. ramorum (cause of ramorum disease of larch and other species in the UK) shows that P. lateralis shares 91.47% nucleotide sequence identity over the core conserved compartments of the genome. The genomes of the four Northern Ireland isolates are almost identical, but we identified several single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that distinguish between isolates, thereby presenting potential molecular markers of use for tracking routes of spread and in epidemiological studies. Our data reveal very low rates of heterozygosity (compared with P. ramorum), consistent with inbreeding within this P. lateralis population.