Phytophthora porri on leek (Allium porrum)
Scientific classification
Domain: Eukaryota
(unranked): SAR
Superphylum: Heterokonta
Class: Oomycetes
Order: Peronosporales
Family: Pythiaceae
Genus: Phytophthora

Phytophthora taxon Agathis
Phytophthora alni
Phytophthora bilorbang
Phytophthora boehmeriae
Phytophthora botryosa
Phytophthora brassicae
Phytophthora cactorum
Phytophthora cajani
Phytophthora cambivora
Phytophthora capsici
Phytophthora cinnamomi
Phytophthora citricola
Phytophthora citrophthora
Phytophthora clandestina
Phytophthora colocasiae
Phytophthora cryptogea
Phytophthora drechsleri
Phytophthora diwan ackerman
Phytophthora erythroseptica
Phytophthora fragariae
Phytophthora fragariae var. rubi
Phytophthora gemini
Phytophthora glovera
Phytophthora gonapodyides
Phytophthora heveae
Phytophthora hibernalis
Phytophthora humicola
Phytophthora hydropathica[1]
Phytophthora irrigata[1]
Phytophthora idaei
Phytophthora ilicis
Phytophthora infestans
Phytophthora inflata
Phytophthora ipomoeae
Phytophthora iranica
Phytophthora katsurae
Phytophthora lateralis
Phytophthora medicaginis
Phytophthora megakarya
Phytophthora megasperma
Phytophthora melonis
Phytophthora mirabilis
Phytophthora multivesiculata
Phytophthora nemorosa[2]
Phytophthora nicotianae
Phytophthora PaniaKara
Phytophthora palmivora
Phytophthora phaseoli
Phytophthora pini
Phytophthora porri
Phytophthora plurivora
Phytophthora primulae
Phytophthora pseudosyringae
Phytophthora pseudotsugae
Phytophthora psychrophila
Phytophthora quercina
Phytophthora ramorum
Phytophthora sinensis
Phytophthora sojae
Phytophthora syringae
Phytophthora tentaculata
Phytophthora trifolii
Phytophthora uliginosa
Phytophthora vignae

Sudden oak death caused by Phytophthora ramorum

Phytophthora (from Greek φυτόν (phytón), “plant” and φθορά (phthorá), “destruction”; “the plant-destroyer”) is a genus of plant-damaging Oomycetes (water molds), whose member species are capable of causing enormous economic losses on crops worldwide, as well as environmental damage in natural ecosystems. The cell wall of Phytophthora is made up of cellulose. The genus was first described by Heinrich Anton de Bary in 1875. Approximately 100 species have been described, although 100–500 undiscovered Phytophthora species are estimated to exist.[3]


Phytophthora spp. are mostly pathogens of dicotyledons, and many are relatively host-specific parasites. Phytophthora cinnamomi, though, infects thousand of species ranging from club mosses, ferns, cycads, conifers, grasses, lilies, to members of many dicotyledonous families. Many species of Phytophthora are plant pathogens of considerable economic importance. Phytophthora infestans was the infective agent of the potato blight that caused the Great Irish Famine (1845–1849), and still remains the most destructive pathogen of solanaceous crops, including tomato and potato.[4] The soya bean root and stem rot agent, Phytophthora sojae, has also caused longstanding problems for the agricultural industry. In general, plant diseases caused by this genus are difficult to control chemically, thus the growth of resistant cultivars is the main management strategy. Other important Phytophthora diseases are:

Research beginning in the 1990s has placed some of the responsibility for European forest die-back on the activity of imported Asian Phytophthoras.[7]

Fungi resemblance

Phytophthora is sometimes referred to as a fungus-like organism, but it is classified under a different kingdom altogether: Chromalveolata (formerly Stramenopila and previously Chromista). This is a good example of convergent evolution: Phytophthora is morphologically very similar to true fungi yet its evolutionary history is completely distinct. In contrast to fungi, chromalveolatas are more closely related to plants than to animals. Whereas fungal cell walls are made primarily of chitin, chromalveolata cell walls are constructed mostly of cellulose. Ploidy levels are different between these two groups; Phytophthora species have diploid (paired) chromosomes in the vegetative (growing, nonreproductive) stage of life, whereas fungi are almost always haploid in this stage. Biochemical pathways also differ, notably the highly conserved lysine synthesis path.


Phytophthora species may reproduce sexually or asexually. In many species, sexual structures have never been observed, or have only been observed in laboratory matings. In homothallic species, sexual structures occur in single culture. Heterothallic species have mating strains, designated as A1 and A2. When mated, antheridia introduce gametes into oogonia, either by the oogonium passing through the antheridium (amphigyny) or by the antheridium attaching to the proximal (lower) half of the oogonium (paragyny), and the union producing oospores. Like animals, but not like most true fungi, meiosis is gametic, and somatic nuclei are diploid. Asexual (mitotic) spore types are chlamydospores, and sporangia which produce zoospores. Chlamydospores are usually spherical and pigmented, and may have a thickened cell wall to aid in their role as a survival structure. Sporangia may be retained by the subtending hyphae (noncaducous) or be shed readily by wind or water tension (caducous) acting as dispersal structures. Also, sporangia may release zoospores, which have two unlike flagella which they use to swim towards a host plant.

Phytophthora forms: A: Sporangia. B: Zoospore. C: Chlamydospore. D: Oospore


  1. 1 2 Hong, C; Gallegly, M; Richardson, P; Kong, P; Moorman, G; Lea-Cox, J; Ross, D (June 2008). "Phytophthora irrigata and Phytophthora hydropathica, two new species from irrigation water at ornamental plant nurseries". Phytopathology Vol. 98, no. 6. Archived from the original on 2012-03-07. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  2. Hansen, Everett M.; Reeser, P. W.; Davidson, J. M.; Garbelotto, Matteo; Ivors, K.; Douhan, L.; Rizzo, David M. (2003). "Phytophthora nemorosa, a new species causing cankers and leaf blight of forest trees in California and Oregon, U.S.A" (PDF). Mycotaxon. 88: 129–138.
  3. Brasier CM, 2009. Phytophthora biodiversity: how many Phytophthora species are there? In: Goheen EM, Frankel SJ, eds. Phytophthoras in Forests and Natural Ecosystems. Albany, CA, USA: USDA Forest Service: General Technical Report PSW-GTR-221, 101–15.
  4. Nowicki, Marcin; et al. (17 August 2011), Potato and tomato late blight caused by Phytophthora infestans: An overview of pathology and resistance breeding, Plant Disease, ASP, doi:10.1094/PDIS-05-11-0458, retrieved 2011-08-30
  5. Brasier, C; Beales, PA; Kirk, SA; Denman, S; Rose, J (2005). "Phytophthora kernoviae sp. Nov., an invasive pathogen causing bleeding stem lesions on forest trees and foliar necrosis of ornamentals in the UK" (PDF). Mycological Research. 109 (Pt 8): 853–9. doi:10.1017/S0953756205003357. PMID 16175787.
  6. "APHIS List of Regulated Hosts and Plants Associated with Phytophthora ramorum" U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services;
  7. "Phytophthora: Asiatischer Pilz lässt die Bäume sterben" Süddeutschen Zeitung 11 May 2005

Further reading

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