Evidence for asexual genetic recombination in sunflower downy mildew, Plasmopara halstedii.
Field isolates and single sporangium lines of the biotrophic Oomycete Plasmopara halstedii, differing in host preference and fungicide sensitivity, were used simultaneously for infection of sunflower. Dual infections led to asexually formed zoosporangia which gave rise to a new phenotype combining the characteristics of the parental strains. The new phenotype showed the metalaxyl-tolerance of one parent and virulence behaviour characteristic of the other, thus being able to infect a specific and fungicide treated sunflower line that neither of the parental strains could infect alone. These characteristics were inherited over many generations and did not occur spontaneously when parental strains were propagated separately. DNA fingerprints with minisatellite and simple sequence repeat primers showed characteristic differences between the patterns of the parental strains and the new phenotype. PCR experiments with mixed parental DNA resulted in additive patterns, but did not show the amplification product specific for the new phenotype. Since sexual reproduction was excluded under the experimental conditions used, the results provide evidence for genetic recombination through parasexual events in dual infections of sunflower downy mildew.