The Plant Pathogen Phytophthora andina Emerged via Hybridization of an Unknown Phytophthora Species and the Irish Potato Famine Pathogen, P. infestans
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Emerging plant pathogens have largely been a consequence of the movement of pathogens to new geographic regions. Another documented mechanism for the emergence of plant pathogens is hybridization between individuals of different species or subspecies, which may allow rapid evolution and adaptation to new hosts or environments. Hybrid plant pathogens have traditionally been difficult to detect or confirm, but the increasing ease of cloning and sequencing PCR products now makes the identification of species that consistently have genes or alleles with phylogenetically divergent origins relatively straightforward. We investigated the genetic origin of Phytophthora andina, an increasingly common pathogen of Andean crops Solanum betaceum, S. muricatum, S. quitoense, and several wild Solanum spp. It has been hypothesized that P. andina is a hybrid between the potato late blight pathogen P. infestans and another Phytophthora species. We tested this hypothesis by cloning four nuclear loci to obtain haplotypes and using these loci to infer the phylogenetic relationships of P. andina to P. infestans and other related species. Sequencing of cloned PCR products in every case revealed two distinct haplotypes for each locus in P. andina, such that each isolate had one allele derived from a P. infestans parent and a second divergent allele derived from an unknown species that is closely related but distinct from P. infestans, P. mirabilis, and P. ipomoeae. To the best of our knowledge, the unknown parent has not yet been collected. We also observed sequence polymorphism among P. andina isolates at three of the four loci, many of which segregate between previously described P. andina clonal lineages. These results provide strong support that P. andina emerged via hybridization between P. infestans and another unknown Phytophthora species also belonging to Phytophthora clade 1c.
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