Multiple origins of downy mildews and mitonuclear discordance within the paraphyletic genus Phytophthora


Phylogenetic relationships between thirteen species of downy mildew and 103 species of Phytophthora (plant-pathogenic oomycetes) were investigated with two nuclear and four mitochondrial loci, using several likelihood-based approaches. Three Phytophthora taxa and all downy mildew taxa were excluded from the previously recognized subgeneric clades of Phytophthora, though all were strongly supported within the paraphyletic genus. Downy mildews appear to be polyphyletic, with graminicolous downy mildews (GDM), brassicolous downy mildews (BDM) and downy mildews with colored conidia (DMCC) forming a clade with the previously unplaced Phytophthora taxon totara; downy mildews with pyriform haustoria (DMPH) were placed in their own clade with affinities to the obligate biotrophic P. cyperi. Results suggest the recognition of four additional clades within Phytophthora, but few relationships between clades could be resolved. Trees containing all twenty extant downy mildew genera were produced by adding partial coverage of seventeen additional downy mildew taxa; these trees supported the monophyly of the BDMs, DMCCs and DMPHs but suggested that the GDMs are paraphyletic in respect to the BDMs or polyphyletic. Incongruence between nuclear-only and mitochondrial-only trees suggests introgression may have occurred between several clades, particularly those containing biotrophs, questioning whether obligate biotrophic parasitism and other traits with polyphyletic distributions arose independently or were horizontally transferred. Phylogenetic approaches may be limited in their ability to resolve some of the complex relationships between the ‘subgeneric’ clades of Phytophthora, which include twenty downy mildew genera and hundreds of species.