Genetic diversity of Phytophthora pluvialis, a pathogen of conifers, in New Zealand and the west coast of the United States of America.
Phytophthora pluvialis is the causal agent of red needle cast on Pinus radiata in New Zealand. It was first isolated in 2008 but had previously been recovered from tanoak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus) and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) trees in Oregon, USA in 2002. Phytophthora pluvialis was subsequently described as a new species in 2013 and classified as a clade III Phytophthora species. The aim of this study was to gain a better understanding of the genetic diversity, population structure and origin of this pathogen. A total of 360 P. pluvialis isolates were collected from the USA and New Zealand. The genome sequences of two P. pluvialis isolates were used to identify 27 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers that were then used to genotype the two populations. The genotypic data showed that the USA population of P. pluvialis had twice the genetic diversity and a greater number of multilocus genotypes (MLGs) compared to the New Zealand population, with 126 and 24 MLGs, respectively. The majority of the subpopulations within the USA and New Zealand showed linkage disequilibrium. All subpopulations had a negative fixation index, indicating that clonal reproduction is prevalent in both countries. A minimum spanning network (MSN) showed two unique clusters of isolates in the New Zealand population, suggesting two potential introductions of P. pluvialis into New Zealand from the USA. There was no significant structure within the New Zealand or USA populations. This study provides novel insight into the genetic structure of P. pluvialis in New Zealand and the USA.