USDA-ARS, Root Disease and Biological Control Lab, Washington State University, Pullman 99164-6430
Pythium spp. were isolated from a mixture of soil and roots collected from 80 wheat fields in eastern Washington in the summer of 2000 from an area encompassing approximately 27,000 km2. These sites covered a range of soil textures (coarse to fine, silty loess), average annual precipitation (200 to 600 mm), and average annual temperatures (7 to 11°C). Soil type and annual precipitation run in an east-west gradient, while temperature has a north-south gradient. Species were identified using classical methods and by sequencing the internal transcribed spacer (ITS)-1 region of the rDNA and comparing these sequences to a database from a worldwide collection of Pythium spp. The species with the highest frequency of occurrence among all the sites were P. abappressorium sp. nov. (A) (50%), P. rostratum (R) (40%), P. debaryanum (D) (37.5%), P. heterothallicum (H) (33.7%), P.oligandrum (O) (31.2%), an unidentified P. sp. (aff. echinulatum) (E) (25%), and P. ultimum (U) (18%). P. intermedium, P. irregulare, P. paroecandrum, P. sylvaticum, P. dissimile, and P. dissoticum were isolated at a low frequency. From one to six species were isolated at each site, and there were 46 different species combinations detected. The species presence/absence data from all sites were analyzed with Jaccard's similarity coefficient hierarchical cluster analysis. Six communities were identified (species within each community designation in order of frequency among the sites within the community)-AD, AOU, AR, DEH, HE, and RU. In general, P. abappressorium was evenly distributed over all zones. AOU was more prevalent in zones with lower precipitation and coarser soil, while DEH and HE were associated with zones with higher precipitation and finer-textured soils on the basis of comparison of frequency distributions with the expected distribution over all the sites. The RU community was more prevalent in higher temperature zones. Canonical correspondence analysis was performed to examine the relationship between species and environmental variables. Soil type and precipitation were highly correlated with each other and with axis 1, which separated P. ultimum and P. abappressorium (lower variable values) from P. heterothallicum (higher variable values). Axis 2 and 3 were most correlated with temperature, and these axes separated P. oligandrum (higher value) from P. debaryanum (lower value) and P. ultimum-P. rostratum from the other species. The results suggest that Pythium species composition, distributions, and associations on a given crop may be influenced by environmental factors at a mesoscale level (100 to 1,000,000 ha).