Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Global invasion history of the emerging plant pathogen Phytophthora multivora.

Abstract

Background: global trade in living plants and plant material has significantly increased the geographic distribution of many plant pathogens. As a consequence, several pathogens have been first found and described in their introduced range where they may cause severe damage on naïve host species. Knowing the center of origin and the pathways of spread of a pathogen is of importance for several reasons, including identifying natural enemies and reducing further spread. Several Phytophthora species are well-known invasive pathogens of natural ecosystems, including Phytophthora multivora. Following the description of P. multivora from dying native vegetation in Australia in 2009, the species was subsequently found to be common in South Africa where it does not cause any remarkable disease. There are now reports of P. multivora from many other countries worldwide, but not as a commonly encountered species in natural environments. Results: a global collection of 335 isolates from North America, Europe, Africa, Australia, the Canary Islands, and New Zealand was used to unravel the worldwide invasion history of P. multivora, using 10 microsatellite markers for all isolates and sequence data from five loci from 94 representative isolates. Our population genetic analysis revealed an extremely low heterozygosity, significant non-random association of loci and substantial genotypic diversity suggesting the spread of P. multivora readily by both asexual and sexual propagules. The P. multivora populations in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand show the most complex genetic structure, are well established and evolutionary older than those in Europe, North America and the Canary Islands. Conclusions: according to the conducted analyses, the world invasion of P. multivora most likely commenced from South Africa, which can be considered the center of origin of the species. The pathogen was then introduced to Australia, which acted as bridgehead population for Europe and North America. Our study highlights a complex global invasion pattern of P. multivora, including both direct introductions from the native population and secondary spread/introductions from bridgehead populations.