Zoospore chemotaxis of closely related legume-root infecting Phytophthora species towards host isoflavones



Phytophthora niederhauserii, P. pisi, P. sojae and P. vignae are closely related species that are pathogenic to various legume plants. While P. sojae and P. vignae are reported to specifically infect soybean and cowpea, respectively, P. pisi is reported to attack pea and faba bean. Phytophthora niederhauserii is considered to have a broad host range. Zoospores of some Phytophthora species are chemotactically attracted to the isoflavones that are secreted by their host plants. The focus of the current study was to determine the chemotaxic behaviour of zoospores from closely related legume-root infecting Phytophthora species and to investigate the correlation, if any, to host preference as determined by greenhouse pathogenicity tests. The results showed that P. sojae and P. vignae were attracted to the non-soybean isoflavone prunetin as well as to the soybean isoflavones genistein and daidzein, which is in contrast with their host specificity on soybean and cowpea, respectively. On the other hand, P. pisi and P. niederhauserii were only attracted to prunetin, previously reported to be produced by pea, but not to the isoflavones associated with the non-host soybean. The lack of responsiveness to genistein and daidzein in P. pisi may represent a recent adaptation to the host specialization towards pea. However, the affinity of P. niederhauserii to prunetin shows that this trait can also be present in taxa not specifically associated with legume hosts.