Roots of stunted broccoli plants (Brassica oleracea) from the Palo Verde Valley, CA, were observed at various stages of decay. A species of Pythium with large spiny oogonia was microscopically observed and consistently isolated from decayed roots. Isolates produced spherical, intercalary sporangia (average 34.5 μm in diameter) and aplerotic oospores (average 37.3 μm in diameter) in oogonia (average 47.4 μm in diameter) bearing numerous conical spines (average 8.5 μm in height and 5.5 μm basal width) with blunt apices. A representative broccoli isolate (P1) had a 99% internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequence similarity with Pythium jasmonium (nom. inval., GenBank AF216654.1), a species which has not been formally described. Three other accessions in GenBank also carry the specific epithet of P. jasmonium and were originally isolated from diseased plants in the family Brassicaceae. In our study, these isolates were pathogenic on broccoli and morphologically similar to P1. P1 was pathogenic to 10 cultivated and 12 wild plants in the family Brassicaceae but not to 18 species of cultivated plants belonging to nine other plant families. Mycelial growth of our isolates occurred between <10 and 35°C, with an optimum of 25°C (maximum growth rate 25 mm/day). Our broccoli isolates are related to other species in subclade B of clade J. Members of subclade B include P. mastophorum, P. uncinulatum, P. buismaniae, P. polymastum, and P. megalacanthum. However, the broccoli isolates, in addition to all those in GenBank that carry the specific epithet of P. jasmonium, possess unique ITS, β-tubulin, and cox1 sequences that are sufficiently different from other species in subclade B to justify status as a new species. We propose that isolates previously designated as P. jasmonium (nom. inval.) be renamed as P. brassicum sp. nov. based on their apparent plant family-specific pathogenicity.
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