Examining phenotypic traits contributing to the spread in northern European potato crops of EU_41_A2, a new clonal lineage of Phytophthora infestans.
Until recently, genotypes of Phytophthora infestans were regionally distributed in Europe, with populations in western Europe being dominated by clonal lineages and those in northern Europe being genetically diverse because of frequent sexual reproduction. However, since 2013 a new clonal lineage (EU_41_A2) has successfully established itself and expanded in the sexually recombining P. infestans populations of northern Europe. The objective of this study was to study phenotypic traits of the new clonal lineage of P. infestans, which may explain its successful establishment and expansion within sexually recombining populations. Fungicide sensitivity, aggressiveness, and virulence profiles of isolates of EU_41_A2 were analyzed and compared with those of the local sexual populations from Denmark, Norway, and Estonia. None of the phenotypic data obtained from the isolates collected from Denmark, Estonia, and Norway independently explained the invasive success of EU_41_A2 within sexual Nordic populations. Therefore, we hypothesize that the expansion of this new genotype could result from a combination of fitness traits and more favorable environmental conditions that have emerged in response to climate change.