Fluctuations of Phytophthora and Pythium spp. in Components of a Recycling Irrigation System

Fluctuations of Phytophthora and Pythium spp. in Components of a Recycling Irrigation System

Bush, Elizabeth A


Bush, E. A., Hong, C. X., and Stromberg, E. L. 2003. Fluctuations of Phytophthora and Pythium spp. in components of a recycling irrigation system. Plant Dis. 87:1500-1506.

Stringent standards of water quality have prompted many horticultural enterprises to limit pollutant discharge associated with nutrient and pesticide applications. Collecting and recycling effluent is a method that has been implemented by many operations to contain pollutants; however, plant pathogens may be spread through recycled effluent. In this study, Phytophthora and Pythium spp. present in a water-recycling irrigation system at a perennial container nursery in southwestern Virginia were characterized using filtering and baiting techniques with two selective media. Members of Phytophthora were identified to species, whereas Pythium spp. were identified to genus only. Pythium spp. were recovered more frequently and in greater numbers than Phytophthora spp. Phytophthora capsici, P. citricola, P, citrophthora, P. cryptogea, P. drechsleri, and P. nicotianae were recovered in filtering assays. Only P. cryptogea and P. drechsleri were identified from baits placed on the surface of the irrigation reservoir, whereas P. cactorum, P. capsici, P. citricola, P. citrophthora, P. cryptogea, and P. drechsleri were recovered at depths, specifically at 1 and 1.5 m. This research provides data for development of detection technology and management practices for plant pathogens in irrigation water and may lead to improvements in conventional assay protocols.

Additional keywords: chlorination, recycled irrigation water

Many horticultural operations have implemented collection and reuse of effluent water to reduce release of pollutants into the environment outside of the operation. This practice also conserves increasingly costly and scarce water. This method involves collecting nursery effluent into holding ponds until needed for irrigation. In most cases, the recycled effluent is pumped to an irrigation reservoir where it is mixed with fresh water (e.g. river, well, and so on) before use in irrigation. One risk of recycling nursery effluent is the spread of plant pathogens through the irrigation system. Many studies have shown a positive correlation between irrigation with plant pathogen-contaminated water and plant disease (9,16,20,35). MacDonald et al. (18) demonstrated that recycled irrigation water can harbor significant levels of fungal propagules which, when used over time to irrigate crops, resulted in contamination of container crops or root colonization by members of the family Pythiaceae.

Zoosporic fungi are the most common fungi occurring in water (2) and the zoosporic genera Phytophthora de Bary and Pythium Pringsh. contain many plantpathogenic species. Many species of Phytophthora, Pythium (8,17,21,24,25), and other plant pathogens (11,25,27,31) have been recovered from irrigation water. Phytophthora spp. recovered in water assays include: P. cactorum (Lebert & Conn) J. Schrot. (20,36), P. cambivora (Petri) Buisman (20), P. dnnamomi Rands (17,19,23,34), P. citricola Sawada (19,20,34,36); P. citrophthora (R.E. Sm. & E.H. Sm.) Leonian (1,16,19,31,34,35), P. cryptogea Pethybr. & Lafferty (1,3,17,19,30,34), P. gonapodyides (Petersen) Buisman (24), P. megasperma Drechs. (19,20,23,30), P. nicotianae Breda de Haan (synonym, P. parasitica Dastur) var. parasitica (1), P. palmivora (EJ. Butler) EJ. Butler (1), P. parasitica (3,16,17,19,31,34), and P. syringae (Kleb.) Kleb. (16). P. dnnamomi also has been reported in natural waterways in Hawaii (15) and in the Southwestern Cape Province of South Africa (32). P. cryptogea frequently was isolated from surface waters used to irrigate citrus in the West Bank of Jordan (1,30). Yamak et al. (36) recently analyzed internal transcribed spacer 2 regions to group Phytophthora isolates recovered from baits in irrigation water and delineated nine clades, of which five have reference isolates of P. gonapodyides, P. parasitica, P. cactorum, P. citricolalcapsici Leonian, and P. cambivora/pseudotsugae RB. Hamm & E.M. Hans.

Filtering (19,21,34) and baiting (17,34,36) commonly are used for detection of plant pathogens in irrigation water. These techniques are labor intensive but allow species separation, and filtering also allows quantification (13). Commercial immunoassay kits also have been assessed for use in water assays; however, they are prone to cross-reactions between genera and demonstrate limitations in quantification (19).

Several studies have been performed in the United States, using either filtering or baiting techniques, to identify Phytophthora and Pythium spp. present in recycled irrigation water used for ornamental plant production. Phytophthora citwphthora, P. citricola, P. cinnamomi, P. cryptogea, P. megasperma, P. parasitica, and P. syringae were isolated by filtering assays from nursery effluent in California (19). P. cinnamomi, P. cryptogea, P. parasitica, and Pythium spp. were recovered by baiting assays in North Carolina (17). Similar assays were conducted in Oklahoma (34) and Pennsylvania (21).

Prior to this work, no information on plant pathogens in irrigation water in Virginia was available. Industry concerns of increased disease incidence after implementation of recycling irrigation water, in addition to requests for control recommendations for waterborne plant pathogens from Virginia growers, prompted this work. To address these needs and prioritize development of practical tools for rapid detection of waterborne plant pathogens, identification of these organisms and their relative abundance in components of a recycled irrigation water system was necessary.

The objectives of this work were to quantify levels of Phytophthora and Pythium spp. present in the components of a recycling irrigation system at a perennial container nursery in southwestern Virginia over a 2-year period and to identify the range of Phytophthora spp. present. Specifically, occurrences of Phytophthora and Pythium spp. were determined for three water sources: chlorinated irrigation water, nonchlorinated irrigation water, and nursery effluent; and at three depths: 0, 1, and 1.5 m from the surface of an irrigation reservoir. Both filtering and baiting were used, along with two media selective for Pythium and Phytophthora spp.


Location of sampling and description of the irrigation recycling system. The nursery where water assays were performed is located in southwestern Virginia. In all, 31 acres are used for container production and 3 acres for field production. Annual production is approximately 4 million container perennials, which consist of over 1,800 varieties. Prior to these assays, the nursery had implemented a recycling irrigation water system. This recycling system involves collection of nursery effluent into French drains, where the effluent travels to a holding pond located at the lowest elevation of the nursery property. As irrigation water is needed, the water collected in the holding pond is pumped into the irrigation reservoir, along with river water. The soil-bottom irrigation reservoir is surrounded by cement or rocks on its circumference and is maintained free of vegetation. Water in the irrigation reservoir is not treated with chlorine until it is needed for irrigation; at that point, the water is injected with chlorine prior to being pumped to irrigation risers, which are located at various points throughout the nursery. The initial system used liquid chlorine and was implemented in 1997; however, in August 2000, a chlorine-gas injection system replaced the liquid-chlorine injection system to improve delivery of chlorine to irrigation water during lowflow conditions (e.g., when low volumes of water are being pumped through the irrigation system). Collected and recycled water (i.e., water from holding ponds) meets approximately 50% of the nursery’s irrigation requirements.

Filtering assays. Nursery effluent, nonchlorinated, and chlorinated irrigation waters were assayed monthly during 2000 and 2001, except in instances where water was frozen or when there was no nursery runoff. Nursery effluent was collected at the point of entry into the holding pond. Nonchlorinated water was collected from an irrigation riser that delivers nonchlorinated water pumped from the irrigation reservoir. Chlorinated water was collected from an irrigation riser, which delivers chlorinetreated water from the irrigation reservoir. These risers are used in application of irrigation water to crops.

Three 1-liter samples were collected from each source at monthly intervals. Each 1-liter sample was collected in three aliquots, which were taken at least 15 min apart. Temperature, pH, and conductivity were recorded for all 1-liter samples immediately after collection with a Watercheck pH meter (Hanna Instruments, Woonsocket, RI). Free chlorine in samples collected from chlorinated irrigation water was measured with a portable chlorine colorimeter. Water samples were kept cool during transport to the laboratory in an ice chest, where they were insulated from direct contact with ice packs by two layers of cardboard. Samples were processed the same day.

A filtering assay, adapted from MacDonald et al. (19) with some modifications, was used to quantify the populations of Phytophthora and Pythium spp. present in the 1-liter samples. A magnetic stir bar was spun on a magnetic plate for at least 60 s to suspend propagules in each sample; then, three 50-ml aliquots were removed from each sample for replicate filtering. A 300-ml Gelman filtering apparatus (Pall Gelman Laboratory, Ann Arbor, MI) was used with a vacuum pump to filter samples. From January 2000 through March 2001, 47-mm Nucleopore filters with 3.0??? pores (Whatman Corp., Ann Arbor, MI) were used; from April 2001 through December 2001, 47-mm Durapore filters with 5.0-??? pores (Millipore Corp., Bedford, MA) were used. The change to Durapore filters was made after investigations revealed increased sensitivity in quantifying pythiaceous fungi and reduction in filtering time (13). Filters from sample aliquots were placed into individual sterile test tubes containing 6 ml of 0.09% agar suspension and vortexed for at least 1 min. While gently agitating the test tube to suspend propagules, 1 ml of the solution was transferred onto two 100-by-15-mm petri dishes each of P5ARP agar, which is selective for members of the family Pythiaceae, and P5ARP amended with hymexazol (Tachigaren, 70% a.i.; Sankyo Co., Tokyo) at 50 ppm for selection of Phytophthora spp. (P^sub 5^ARP+H; 14). Both media were amended with benomyl (10 mg/liter) to enhance selectivity (23) and will be referred to henceforth as P5ARP+B and P5ARP+B+H. The solution was spread with a sterile glass rod in the petri dishes, then incubated in the dark at 25°C.

The isolation dishes were examined daily for colony growth and the number of pythiaceous colonies was noted over a period of at least 7 days. A minimum of 15% of the colonies was selected arbitrarily and cultured on P5ARP-VS agar, in which 20% clarified V8 juice replaced cornmeal as the basal medium. Pythium isolates were identified in this study to genus only, but Phytophthora isolates were identified to species. Identification to species was accomplished by observing morphological characteristics of asexual and sexual structures, along with observation of growth-temperature maxima. Several Phytophthora keys were used in this work (7,12,22,26,33; M. E. Gallegly, unpublished key).

Asexual structures necessary for identification were induced by transferring mycelial plugs from the growing edge of colonies on P5ARP-VS agar to 60-by-15-mm petri dishes containing nonsterile soil extract or subjecting the transferred mycelial plugs to a mineral salts washing regime. Soil extract was prepared by bringing 15 g of soil to 1 liter with distilled water and mixing on a magnetic stir plate overnight. Soil was allowed to settle in the container at least 24 h before use. The mineral salts solution was prepared as previously described by Chen and Zentmyer (6). The mineral salts washing regime was performed as follows: (i) mycelial plugs in petri dishes were flooded with 10 ml of mineral salts solution; (ii) the wash solution was removed and H) ml of mineral salts solution was added to the culture, which was allowed to rest at least 10 min at room temperature before removal of the mineral salts solution; (iii) cultures were flooded with another K) ml of mineral salts solution and incubated at room temperature under 40-W fluorescent lights overnight; and (iv) the mineral salts solution was replaced with K) ml of fresh mineral salts solution. With both the soil extract or mineral salts regime, cultures were allowed to incubate under 40-W fluorescent lights for 1 to 4 days at room temperature and observed for sporangia production.

Cultures incubating in the dark on P5ARP-VS agar were observed for development of sexual structures. Plates were observed at approximately 1- and 2-month intervals for sexual structures and, if none were observed, the isolate was presumed heterothallic. For heterothallic Phytophthora spp., pairing experiments with selected isolates were made with Al and A2 mating types of P. capsici, P. cinnamomi, and P. parasitica on 20% clarified V8 agar.

CPU/liter were calculated by correlating the proportion of a genus or species identified from the transferred isolates with the entire number of colonies recovered in sampling.

Baiting assays. Baiting was performed in the irrigation reservoir, where water from the river and the nursery effluent holding pond is pumped and held until needed for irrigation. As water is needed for irrigation, water is pumped out of the irrigation reservoir and treated with chlorine by injection prior to delivery to irrigation risers, which are used in delivery of irrigation water to crops. Twenty-four leaf disks (5 mm in diameter) of Rhododendron catawbiense Michx. were placed in individual plastic mesh bags and attached to floats on the surface of the irrigation reservoir at monthly intervals. Floats were anchored in place. Baits were placed at three arbitrarily chosen locations around the periphery of the pond at least 2 m from shore. Water temperature, conductivity, and pH were recorded at placement and collection. Baits were collected approximately 48 h after placement and kept cool in an insulated container during transport to the laboratory, where samples were processed the same day. During December 2000 and January 2001, baiting assays were not performed, because the reservoir was frozen. Baiting at two additional depths (1 and 1.5 m) also was performed at quarterly intervals from May 2000 to November 2001. For baiting at depths, plastic mesh bags containing rhododendron leaf disks were attached to a rope along with weights at 1-and 1.5-m intervals below the water surface and suspended with an anchored float at the pond surface.

After collection from the irrigation reservoir, leaf disks were washed with tap water for at least 15 min. Next, leaf disks were blotted dry on clean paper towels and plated on three dishes each of the two selective media in lOO-by-15-mm petri dishes for each baiting location, using four leaf disks per dish. Isolation dishes were examined daily for colony growth for at least 1 week. Colonies were counted and transferred, and identification and storage procedures were performed as outlined above for filtering assays. The percentage of leaf disks colonized by Phytophthora and Pythium spp. was calculated separately for each sample.

Statistical analyses. Statistical analyses were performed using JMP software (2nd éd.; SAS Institute, Inc., Gary, NC). For filtering assays, analysis of variance was performed to compare recovery of Pythium and Phytophthora spp. on the two selective media. Recovery comparison of Pythium spp. among the three water sources (chlorinated, nonchlorinated, and effluent) was done with the Kruskal-Wallis H test. However, no comparison was made for Phytophthora spp. due to their infrequent recovery. For baiting assays, each month was treated as a sample unit and the Sign test was used to compare the percentage of leaf disks colonized by Phytophthora and Pythium spp. on the two selective media.


Filtering assays. Water temperature readings at the time of sampling ranged from 3 to 28, 1 to 25, and 1 to 29°C in effluent, nonchlorinated, and chlorinated water, respectively, with respective means of 16, 17, and 15°C. Readings of pH ranged from 6.1 to 8.1, 6.5 to 8.9, and 4.2 to 8.5 in effluent, nonchlorinated, and chlorinated water, respectively, with respective means of 6.9, 7.1, and 7.7. Conductivity measured highest in effluent, ranging from 138 to 414 ?8 with a mean of 246 ?8. Conductivity ranged from 77 to 195 ?? in nonchlorinated water and 47 to 213 ?? in chlorinated water, with respective means of 118 and 141 [mu]S. Free chlorine levels measured from chlorine-treated water at sample collection were similar in the 2 years, ranging from 0.1 to 3.5 ppm in 2000 and 0.1 to 2.8 ppm in 2001. In both years, mean chlorine levels measured at sampling were 0.6 ppm.

A diversity of Phytophthora spp. was recovered from effluent water. P. citrophthora was recovered from effluent water during july and September 2000 on both media. Recovery of P. citmphthora on P5ARP+B was 85 CPU/liter in july 2000 and 28 CPU/liter in September 2000 and 47 and 16 CPU/liter, respectively, on P5ARP+B+H during the same months. P. citmphthora and P. nicotianae were recovered only on P5ARP+B+H in August and September 2001, respectively, at a relatively low level of 7 CPU/liter. Recovery during single months from nursery effluent occurred with P. capsici and P. cryptogea in September and June 2000, respectively, and P. citricola in June 2001.

P. drechsleri Tucker was the only member of Phytophthora recovered from chlorinated irrigation water during filtering assays in both years, other than an unidentified Phytophthora sp. which was recovered in a single instance on P5ARP+B in 2001.

Recovery from nonchlorinated irrigation water showed more diversity of Phytophthora spp. than recovery from chlorinated irrigation water and nursery effluent. Recovery of P. nicotianae occurred in a single month during 2000 on P^sub 5^ARP+B, while P. cryptogea, P. citricola, and P. drechsleri were recovered in single months in 2001 on P^sub 5^ARP+B. The highest level of Phytophthora isolate recovery from nonchlorinated water occurred during November 2001, with recovery of P. cryptogea at 54 CPU/liter. On P^sub 5^ARP+B+H medium, P. cryptogea was recovered in November 2000 and in June and July 2001. P. drechsleri was recovered during July and October 2001 on P^sub 5^ARP+B+H medium. P. citricola and P. citrophthora were recovered in May and June 2001, respectively, on P^sub 5^ARP+B+H medium.

No difference was observed in total recovery of Phytophthora isolates between P^sub 5^ARP+B and P^sub 5^ARP+B+H media from chlorinated water (P = 0.22), nonchlorinated water (P = 0.48), and effluent (P = 0.73) (Fig. 1). However, as expected, significantly fewer isolates of Pythium were recovered on P^sub 5^ARP+B+H than on P^sub 5^ARP+B media from effluent (P = 0.02), nonchlorinated (P

During colder periods of the years when crops were dormant in the nursery, members of Pythiaceae were not recovered from the three water sources (Fig. 2). Overall, Pythium spp. were recovered more frequently and in greater numbers than Phytophthora spp. from chlorinated and nonchlorinated irrigation water and nursery effluent (Fig. 2).

Pythium spp. were isolated from March through October 2000 from chlorinated irrigation water (Fig. 2A). During sampling in 2001, Pythium isolate recovery from chlorinated irrigation water occurred only twice at relatively low levels. Phytophthora isolates were recovered in july 2000 and no subsequent recovery occurred until fall 2001, when relatively low levels of Phytophthora isolates were recovered from chlorinated irrigation water.

Pythium isolate recovery from nonchlorinated irrigation water fluctuated widely over the 2-year study (Fig. 2B). Phytophthora isolates were recovered less frequently and at lower levels compared with Pythium isolates from nonchlorinated irrigation water in filtering assays on P5ARP+B medium. Phytophthora isolate recovery levels from nonchlorinated water during the 2 years was infrequent.

Pythium isolate recovery from nursery effluent fluctuated less compared with recovery from chlorinated and nonchlorinated irrigation water, and recovery levels were often much higher (Fig. 2). Recovery of Pythium isolates from nursery effluent began in both years during early spring and tapered off in early fall, coinciding with crop dormancy. Recovery of Pythium isolates among the three water sources (i.e., chlorinated, nonchlorinated, and nursery effluent) was significantly (P

Baiting assays. The temperature of water in the irrigation reservoir ranged from 3 to 31°C, with a mean temperature of 16°C. Readings of pH ranged from 6.5 to 8.5 with a mean of pH 7. Conductivity readings ranged from 82 to 188 ?8 with a mean of 117 [mu]S.

Phytophthora spp. were recovered from significantly (P = 0.001) more baits placed on the surface of the irrigation reservoir, using P^sub 5^ARP+B+H compared with P^sub 5^ARP+B medium (Fig. 3A). In contrast, Pythium isolates were recovered from significantly (P

In surface baiting from the irrigation reservoir, P. cryptogea and P. drechsleri were the only Phytophthora spp. recovered on both media, except for a single recovery of an unidentified isolate on P5ARP+B. Peaks of recovery of P. drechsleri occurred in August 2000 and July 2001 (Fig. 4). Peak recovery of P. cryptogea occurred later in both years and recovery of P. cryptogea continued 1 month after recovery of P. drechsleri had ceased (Fig. 4).

During quarterly baiting assays at 0, 1, and 1.5-m depths in the irrigation reservoir, mean percentage of recovery levels of both Pythium and Phytophthora isolates from leaf disk baits were not significantly different among the three depths in the irrigation reservoir on either medium (data not shown). However, a broader range of Phytophthora spp. was recovered in assays with P^sub 5^ARP+B+H medium at 1 and 1.5 m. Species recovered at these depths included P. cryptogea, P. drechsleri, P. cactorum, P. capsici, P. citrophthora, and P. citricola. However, the percentage of leaf disks from which P. cactorum, P. capsici, P. citrophthora, and P. citricola was recovered on P5ARP+B+H medium during quarterly sampling at 1 and 1.5 m between May 2000 to November 2001 was low (i.e., 2, 9, 2, and 6%, respectively), as was frequency of recovery of these species (i.e., during single months).


Clearly, a diversity of Phytophthora spp. and a large number of propagules of Pythium spp. exist in the recycling water irrigation system at the nursery investigated in this study. In assays of nursery effluent, MacDonald et al. (19) had recovery levels of Phytophthora isolates that generally ranged from 0 to 400 CPU/liter, with relatively large fluctuations in propagule recovery at two of three nurseries that had implemented recycling water systems. The recovery of Pythium isolates outnumbered recovery of Phytophthora isolates in a manner comparable to the present work. Wilson et al. (34) found Phytophthora propagule levels up to 400 CPU/liter in assays of recycling water retention basins after implementation of irrigation water recycling. The range of recovery of Phytophthora isolates in the present work was somewhat lower, and levels of recovery fluctuated erratically in filtering assays from samples of chlorinated, nonchlorinated, and effluent water. However, the nursery investigated in this work had been treating irrigation water to kill waterborne pathogens. Relatively low levels of recovery may be an indication that the chlorine treatment reduced the numbers of viable propagules in irrigation water. Over the long term, effective water treatment may negate the possibility of populations of organisms reproducing exponentially in the recycling irrigation system. However, despite water treatment, some propagules of Phytophthora and Pythlum spp. were able to survive in this irrigation water system and be spread through irrigation water. Any levels of these organisms in irrigation water are of concern to horticultural operations, because Phytophthora and Pythium spp. are associated with multicyclic disease and epidemics in favorable environments.

Phytophthora spp. recovered by filtering and baiting methods from the four water sources assayed include P. capsici, P. citricola, P. citrophthora, P. cryptogea, and P. drechsleri. P. cactorum. and P. nicotianae were recovered only in baiting and filtering assays, respectively. However, P. cactorum was recovered in only a single instance and P. nicotianae only twice. Therefore, baiting and filtering methods may be similar in terms of detecting the range of species present in a water source. Recovery of P. capsici and R drechsieri from nursery irrigation water has not been reported previously.

Although a relatively large diversity of Phytophthora spp. was identified, recovery of some species was quite limited. Specifically, during the 2-year filtering assays, P. cactorum, P. capsici, P. citricola, and P. nicotianae were recovered only one to four times and only between the months of greatest nursery activity from May through September. These species may be transient inhabitants of the nursery introduced by crops, and may be unable to survive and reproduce within the irrigation system. Alternatively, these species may not be recovered easily by the assay techniques employed in this work and may be recovered only when populations peak to threshold recovery levels.

P. drechsleri was the only species recovered from chlorinated irrigation water. It was recovered in filtering assays from both chlorinated and nonchlorinated irrigation water, whereas P. citricola, P. citrophthora, P. cryptogea, and P. nicotianae were recovered from both nonchlorinated irrigation water and nursery effluent. The greater diversity of species recovered from nonchlorinated water compared with chlorinated water does suggest that some species may be less sensitive to chlorination than other species, although sporadic recoveries make this impossible to ascertain.

P. drechsleri and P. cryptogea were the most frequently recovered species and their recovery occurred over the longest period, from early spring through fall, which suggests that these species are well adapted to the conditions and able to reproduce within the recycling irrigation system. However, recovery of these two species was primarily through rhododendron baits and recovery from effluent was extremely limited or lacking.

P. cryptogea and P. drechsleri were recovered more frequently from baits in the irrigation reservoir compared with recovery in filtering assays of nonchlorinated irrigation water, which originates from the same reservoir (Fig. 4). Shokes and McCarter (25) similarly observed that Pythium spp. were recovered by baiting even when no recovery occurred from the same source on selective media. Baiting allows germination and mycelial growth into plant tissue from the relatively delicate zoospore prior to transport or treatment in the laboratory. Additionally, motile zoospores possess positive chemotaxis (5) and may be attracted to baits. This would increase the probability of propagule recovery compared with sampling an arbitrary volume of water.

Baits have been considered very sensitive in assays for members of the family Pythiaceae (34), but also are problematic due to their unknown degree of selectivity for an organism (10). The competitive saprophytic ability of P. cryptogea has been reported by Bumbieris (4), who considered this species conspecific with P. drechsleri. Additionally, in water baiting assays, the higher frequency of recovery of P. cryptogea over other Phytophthora spp. prompted Taylor (30) to hypothesize that this species is parasitic on aquatic plants or terrestrial plants accessible by proximity to water, or that this species is saprophytic. Populations of saprobes or organisms with the ability to parasitize aquatic plants also could increase in water in the absence of a terrestrial plant host. Reports of P. cryptogea in natural surface waters and the frequency of recovery of this species and the morphologically similar P. drechsleri also implicate river water, which is mixed with nursery effluent in the irrigation reservoir, as a possible source of these species. Further investigation of the lifecycles of these organisms may be warranted.

A greater diversity of Phytophthora spp. was recovered from baits placed below the water surface (i.e., at depths of 1 and 1.5 m), but no significant differences in overall recovery rates existed among the three baiting depths. These results indicate that setting baits between 1 to 1.5 m below the surface may be preferable to surface baiting in baiting assays for Phytophthora spp. Studies of aquatic fungi in lakes by Suzuki (28) showed that zoospores of Pythium spp. were equally distributed from the surface to the lake bottom; however, some zoospores of other aquatic fungi were aggregated at the depths near the bottom. The vertical distribution of zoospores of Phytophthora spp. in ponds, lakes, or irrigation reservoirs has not been investigated previously.

Although P. citrophthora was recovered from baits and nonchlorinated irrigation water, this species was primarily recovered in nursery effluent. This may indicate that propagules of this species are adapted to the relatively harsh conditions (e.g., rapid temperature fluctuations, ultraviolet light, and high salts) in effluent water or that populations in container plants are relatively high. The limited recovery of this species from other locations may indicate that this species is not as well adapted as P. cryptogea and P. drechsleri to a recycling irrigation system or that rhododendron leaf baits are not selective for this species. However, P. citrophthora was recovered over a relatively long period of the year (May through September).

Whether there is a positive correlation between levels of Phytophthora isolate recovery from nursery effluent and recovery levels in irrigation water cannot be proved in this study. Likewise, whether a positive correlation between species recovered from nursery effluent and corresponding species recovered from irrigation water exists also is uncertain. Factors contributing to this ambiguity include the discrete sampling time involved in this study. In a nursery situation, the number of crop species is quite large and the susceptibility of different crop species and ability to harbor potential pathogens is varied. Additionally, crop species are in dynamic flux in a nursery, unlike hosts in a natural setting or field plot. Pesticide applications and chlorine treatment represent other factors that add complexity to sampling and decrease the probability of firmly correlating factors in a nursery operation. Likewise, fluctuations in populations would be expected in irrigation water, depending on the length of time propagules are allowed to settle before effluent water is pumped into the irrigation reservoir, dilution of water in the reservoir by rainfall events, and sprays of chlorine to the irrigation reservoir to control algae bloom. For example, during these water assays, drought resulted in more time for propagules in the holding pond to settle out before reuse of collected effluent.

The two selective media performed differently in filtering- and baiting-based assays. Hymexazol-amended medium (e.g., P^sub 5^ARP+B+H) commonly is used to enhance recovery of Phytophthom spp. over faster-growing Pythium spp.; however, many Phytophthora spp. are sensitive to hymexazol (7). For example, Tay et al. (29) demonstrated that hymexazol decreases germination of zoospore cysts of P. capsici. The recovery of zoospores on the hymexazol-amended medium was most likely similarly reduced in this study. Therefore, Phytophthora isolate recovery may have been reduced through two mechanisms: (i) competition from faster growing Pythium spp. on non-hymexazolamended media and (ii) decreases in viability of Phytophthora propagules on hymexazol-amended media. Although recovery of Phytophthora isolates was higher on media lacking hymexazol, it is probable that recovery would have been even higher if faster-growing Pythium spp. were suppressed. Therefore, serious limitations are apparent in assays for Phytophthora spp. that employ these two commonly used selective media. In baiting assays, a greater diversity of Phytophthora spp. was recovered with hymexazolamended compared with nonamended medium, but significant differences in recovery levels of Phytophthora isolates were not demonstrated between the two media. Use of hymexazol-amended medium may enhance recovery of a greater range of Phytophthora spp. in baiting assays, but not necessarily in filtering assays.

Identification of Phytophthora spp. present in irrigation systems is the first step toward monitoring and managing these pathogens. Further determination of the relative importance of the species recovered, in terms of their pathogenicity and frequency of association with recycled irrigation water, will help to prioritize species for development of rapid detection tests. Compared to propagules of Phylophthora, Pythium propagules were much more abundant in irrigation water. The common occurrence of Pythium spp. in the water warrants their identification to species and an assessment of their importance as plant pathogens.


We thank M. E. Gallegly for direction and assistance on identification of Phytophthora isolates; S. L. von Broembsen; the laboratory staff of J. D. MacDonald, A. B. A. M. Baudoin, and M. A. Hansen for advice; and Gustafson R & D Center, McKinney, TX for kindly providing the Tachigaren used in this study.


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Elizabeth A. Bush, Chuanxue Hong, and Erik L. Stromberg, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology and Weed Science, Blacksburg 24061

Corresponding authors: E. A. Bush

E-mail: chush@vt.edu

C. X. Hong

E-mail: chhong2@vt.edu

This research was supported in part by grants from the Virginia Agricultural Council and the Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association.

Accepted for publication 4 August 2003.

Copyright American Phytopathological Society Dec 2003

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