Snow mould caused by a Pythium sp.: a potential vascular plant pathogen in the maritime Antarctic.
The pathogenicity of an isolate of a Pythium species from Signy Island in the South Orkney Islands was tested against the Antarctic hairgrass Deschampsia antarctica. The isolate was found to infect plants at 8ºC and to cause foliar and root symptoms similar to those seen in other Pythium infections in grasses. Analysis of ribosomal RNA sequences placed it, together with another isolate from Antarctica, in a clade that included the known snow moulds caused by Pythium spp. Sporangia and oogonia were produced in culture, but the isolate differed from other Pythium spp. in producing chlamydospores in older cultures and plant tissue. This is the first report of a pathogen of an eukaryotic vascular plant in the maritime Antarctic region.