Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology, and Weed Science; New Mexico State University, Las Cruces 88003.
Formation of sporangia and zoospores in species of Phytophthora is known to be influenced by soil microbial and chemical composition. In Phytophthora capsici, the study of the relationship of soil chemical composition to production of sporangia and zoospores has been limited. P. capsici is a soilborne pathogen of a wide array of vegetable crops, including chile pepper (Capsicum annuum) in New Mexico. Production of sporangia and zoospores by P. capsici was evaluated in extracts of soils from three different environments in New Mexico: (i) agricultural environments with a long history of chile pepper cropping and occurrence of P. capsici (CP), (ii) agricultural environments with no history of chile pepper cropping and no occurrence of P. capsici (Non-CP), and (iii) nonagricultural environments consisting of forests and rangelands (Non-Ag). There was a significant difference in production of P. capsici asexual propagules, expressed as natural log (number of sporangia × number of zoospores), among the three environments (P = 0.0298). Production of propagules was 9 to 13% greater in Non-Ag than in CP or Non-CP environments. Stepwise multiple discriminant analysis and canonical discriminant analysis identified the edaphic variables Na, pH, P, organic matter content, and asexual propagule production as contributing the most to the separation of the three environments. Two significant (P < 0.0001) canonical discriminant functions were derived with the first function, accounting for ≈75% of the explained variance. Based on the two discriminant functions, ≈93, 86, and 89% of observations in CP, Non-CP, and Non-Ag environments, respectively, were classified correctly. Soils from agricultural and nonagricultural environments differentially influence production of sporangia and zoospores in P. capsici, and soil samples could be effectively classified into agricultural and nonagricultural environments based on soil chemical properties and the production of asexual propagules by P. capsici in soil extracts.