Phytophthora sojae is an oomycete pathogen of soybean, classified in the kingdom Stramenopiles. It causes ‘damping off’ of seedlings and root rot of older plants, with an annual cost worldwide of $1–2 billion. Owing to its economic importance, this species, along with P. infestans, has been developed as a model species for the study of oomycete plant pathogens. It is readily transformed with DNA enabling over-expression and silencing of selected genes, genetic maps have been constructed and large expressed sequence tag sequence libraries have been developed. A draft genome sequence has recently been completed. This review briefly summarizes current information about the pathogenicity, evolution, molecular biology and genomics of P. sojae.

 Taxonomy:  Phytophthora sojae (Kaufman & Gerdman): superkingdom Eukaryota; kingdom Stramenopila; phylum Oomycota; class Peronosporomycetidae; order Pythiales; family Pythiaceae; genus Phytophthora.

 Host range:   Soybean is the only economically important host. Several species of lupins have also been reported as hosts.

 Disease symptoms and signs:   All parts of the soybean plant are susceptible to infection by P. sojae, from germinating seedlings to mature plants. In the field, P. sojae causes damping off of soybean seedlings and a root and stem rot of established plants. Leaves can be infected in the field as a result of rain splash or by deliberate inoculation in the laboratory. Damping off can affect germinating seeds or emerged seedlings and is most severe when the spring is very wet and warm (25–30 °C). Established plants can become infected when the soil is wet for extended periods, especially if the soil is poorly drained. Both the cortex and the vascular tissue are colonized by P. sojae, and the infection can spread rapidly along the vascular tissues in susceptible cultivars.