The variability of Phytophthora infestans isolates collected from Estonian islands in the Baltic Sea

Eve Runno-Paurson (Lead / Corresponding author), Collins Aimuaenvbosa Agho, Helina Nassar, Merili Hansen, Kätlin Leitaru, Tiit Hallikma, David E L Cooke, Ülo Niinemets

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Knowledge of a pathogen's genetic variability and population structure is of benefit to effective disease management. In this study, 193 isolates of Phytophthora infestans collected from three Estonian islands, were characterized over three years using SSRs marker data complemented by information on their mating type and resistance to metalaxyl. In combination with SSR marker data from samples in the neighbouring Pskov region of north west Russia, the impact of regional and landscape structure on the level of genetic exchange was also examined. Among the Estonian islands 111 P. infestans isolates, forty-nine alleles were detected among twelve SSR loci, and 59 SSR multilocus genotypes (MLGs) were found, of which 64% were unique. The genetic variation was higher among years than that among islands, as revealed by AMOVA. The frequency of metalaxyl-resistant isolates increased from 9% in 2012 to 30% in 2014, and metalaxyl resistant was most frequent among A1 isolates. The test for isolation by distance among the studied regions was not significant, and coupled with the absence of genetic differentiation revealed gene flow, and the absence of local adaptation. The data are consistent with a sexual population in which diversity is driven by an annual germination of soil-borne oospores. The absence of shared genotypes over the years has important implications when it comes to the management of disease. Such population diversity can make it difficult to predict the nature of the outbreak in the coming year as the genetic makeup are different for each year.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPlant disease
Early online date21 Dec 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Dec 2023


  • late blight
  • population structure
  • SSR markers
  • mating type
  • metalaxyl resistance
  • potato
  • the Baltic Sea islands


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