Intraspecific and within-isolate sequence variation in the ITS rRNA gene region of Pythium mercuriale sp. nov. (Pythiaceae)
Sixteen Pythium isolates from diverse hosts and locations, which showed similarities in their morphology and sequences of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of their rRNA gene, were investigated. As opposed to the generally accepted view, within single isolates ITS sequence variations were consistently found mostly as part of a tract of identical bases (A-T) within ITS1, and of GT or GTTT repeats within the ITS2 sequence. Thirty-one different ITS sequences obtained from 39 cloned ITS products from the 16 isolates showed high sequence and length polymorphisms within and between isolates. However, in a phylogenetic analysis, they formed a cluster distinct from those of other Pythium species. Additional sequencing of two nuclear genes (elongation factor 1α and β-tubulin) and one mitochondrial gene (nadh1) revealed high levels of heterozygosity as well as polymorphism within and between isolates, with some isolates possessing two or more alleles for each of the nuclear genes. In contrast to the observed variation in the ITS and other gene areas, all isolates were phenotypically similar. Pythium mercuriale sp. nov. (Pythiaceae) is characterized by forming thin-walled chlamydospores, subglobose to obovoid, papillate sporangia proliferating internally and smooth-walled oogonia surrounded by multiple antheridia. Maximum likelihood phylogenetic analyses based on both ITS and β-tubulin sequence data place P. mercuriale in a clade between Pythium and Phytophthora. © 2008 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.