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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Phytophthora ramorum and Phytophthora gonapodyides Differently Colonize and Contribute to the Decomposition of Green and Senesced Umbellularia californica Leaves in a Simulated Stream Environment

  • Author(s): Aram, Kamyar
  • Rizzo, David M
  • et al.

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Plant pathogenic as well as saprotrophic Phytophthora species are now known to inhabit forest streams and other surface waters. How they survive and function in aquatic ecosystems, however, remains largely uninvestigated. Phytophthora ramorum, an invasive pathogen in California forests, regularly occurs in forest streams, where it can colonize green leaves shed in the stream but is quickly and largely succeeded by saprotrophically competent clade 6 Phytophthora species, such as Phytophthora gonapodyides. We investigated, using controlled environment experiments, whether leaf litter quality, based on senescence, affects how P. ramorum and P. gonapodyides compete in leaf colonization and to what extent each species can contribute to leaf decomposition. We found that both Phytophthora species effectively colonized and persisted on green or yellow (senescing) bay leaves, but only P. gonapodyides could also colonize and persist on brown (fully senesced and dried) leaves. Both Phytophthora species similarly accelerated the decomposition of green leaves and yellow leaves compared with non-inoculated controls, but colonization of brown leaves by P. gonapodyides did not affect their decomposition rate.

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