Oxygen stress reduces zoospore survival of Phytophthora species in a simulated aquatic system
Background The genus Phytophthora includes a group of agriculturally important pathogens and they are commonly regarded as water molds. They produce motile zoospores that can move via water currents and on their own locomotion in aquatic environments. However, zoosporic response to dissolved oxygen, an important water quality parameter, is not known. Like other water quality parameters, dissolved oxygen concentration in irrigation reservoirs fluctuates dramatically over time. The aim of this study was to determine whether and how zoospore survival may be affected by elevated and low concentrations of dissolved oxygen in water to better understand the aquatic biology of these pathogens in irrigation reservoirs. Results Zoospores of P. megasperma, P. nicotianae, P. pini and P. tropicalis were assessed for survival in 10% Hoagland’s solution at a range of dissolved concentrations from 0.9 to 20.1-mg-L-1 for up to seven exposure times from 0 to 72-h. Zoospore survival was measured by resultant colony counts per ml. Zoospores of these species survived the best in control Hoagland’s solution at dissolved oxygen concentrations of 5.3 to 5.6-mg-L-1. Zoospore survival rates decreased with increasing and decreasing concentration of dissolved oxygen, depending upon Phytophthora species and exposure time. Overall, P. megasperma and P. pini are less sensitive than P. nicotianae and P. tropicalis to hyperoxia and hypoxia conditions. Conclusion Zoospores in the control solution declined over time and this natural decline process was enhanced under hyperoxia and hypoxia conditions. These findings suggest that dramatic fluctuations of dissolved oxygen in irrigation reservoirs contribute to the population decline of Phytophthora species along the water path in the same reservoirs. These findings advanced our understanding of the aquatic ecology of these pathogens in irrigation reservoirs. They also provided a basis for pathogen risk mitigation by prolonging the turnover time of runoff water in recycling irrigation systems via better system designs.