Species Richness, rRNA Gene Abundance, and Seasonal Dynamics of Airborne Plant-Pathogenic Oomycetes

Naama Lang-Yona, Daniel A. Pickersgill, Isabel Maurus, David Teschner, Jörn Wehking, Eckhard Thines, Ulrich Pöschl, Viviane R. Després, Janine Fröhlich-Nowoisky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oomycetes, also named Peronosporomycetes, are one of the most important and widespread groups of plant pathogens, leading to significant losses in the global agricultural productivity. They have been studied extensively in ground water, soil, and host plants, but their atmospheric transport vector is not well characterized. In this study, the occurrence of airborne Oomycetes was investigated by Sanger sequencing and quantitative PCR of coarse and fine aerosol particle samples (57 filter pairs) collected over a 1-year period (2006-2007) and full seasonal cycle in Mainz, Germany. In coarse particulate matter, we found 55 different hypothetical species (OTUs), of which 54 were plant pathogens and 29 belonged to the genus Peronospora (downy mildews). In fine particulate matter (<3 μm), only one species of Hyaloperonospora was found in one sample. Principal coordinate analysis of the species composition revealed three community clusters with a dependence on ambient temperature. The abundance of Oomycetes rRNA genes was low in winter and enhanced during spring, summer, and fall, with a dominance of Phytophthora, reaching a maximum concentration of ∼1.6 × 106 rRNA genes per cubic meter of sampled air in summer. The presence and high concentration of rRNA genes in air suggests that atmospheric transport, which can lead to secondary infection, may be more important than currently estimated. This illustrates the need for more current and detailed datasets, as potential seasonal shifts due to changing meteorological conditions may influence the composition of airborne Oomycetes. An insight into the dynamics of airborne plant pathogens and their major drivers should be useful for improved forecasting and management of related plant diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2673
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberNOV
StatePublished - 15 Nov 2018


  • Airborne oomycetes
  • Meteorological parameter
  • Peronosporomycetes
  • Plant pathogen
  • Qpcr analysis
  • Sanger sequencing
  • Seasonal distribution

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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