Tracking Phytophthora infestans with SSR markers within and between seasons – a field study in Sweden




The dynamics of a late blight epidemic and sexual reproduction in Phytophthora infestans were studied in an experimental field in mid-Sweden. The field was inoculated with six isolates of P. infestans taken from another potato field where sexual reproduction of the pathogen was suspected. Three weeks after inoculation single-lesion leaflets were sampled and the resulting isolates characterized using microsatellites (SSRs) and mating type as markers. Among the 151 isolates analysed, the inoculum genotypes constituted more than 80% of the genotypes found, with three other genotypes making up the remainder. The following year, P. infestans obtained from soil samples taken from this field were analysed, and six novel genotypes were identified. Genotypes from the previous summer’s population were not detected. Analysis of the genotypes recovered was consistent with them being recombinants, with the previous summer’s population acting as parents. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that oospores produced during a summer epidemic in Sweden can overwinter and cause infection the next year.