Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, University of California, Riverside 92521.
Phytophthora root rot (PRR) of avocado (Persea americana), caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi, is the most serious disease of avocado worldwide. Previous studies have determined that this pathogen exhibits a primarily clonal reproductive mode but no population level studies have been conducted in the avocado-growing regions of California. Therefore, we used amplified fragment length polymorphism based on 22 polymorphic loci and mating type to investigate pathogen diversity from 138 isolates collected in 2009 to 2010 from 15 groves from the Northern and Southern avocado-growing regions. Additional isolates collected from avocado from 1966 to 2007 as well as isolates from other countries and hosts were also used for comparative purposes. Two distinct clades of A2 mating-type isolates from avocado were found based on neighbor joining analysis; one clade contained both newer and older collections from Northern and Southern California, whereas the other clade only contained isolates collected in 2009 and 2010 from Southern California. A third clade was also found that only contained A1 isolates from various hosts. Within the California population, a total of 16 genotypes were found with only one to four genotypes identified from any one location. The results indicate significant population structure in the California avocado P. cinnamomi population, low genotypic diversity consistent with asexual reproduction, potential evidence for the movement of clonal genotypes between the two growing regions, and a potential introduction of a new clonal lineage into Southern California.