Mycological Progress

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 121–129 | Cite as

Reclassification of an enigmatic downy mildew species on lovegrass (Eragrostis) to the new genus Eraphthora, with a key to the genera of the Peronosporaceae

  • Sabine Telle
  • Marco ThinesEmail author
Original Article


Graminicolous downy mildews affect economical important crops like sorghum, maize and pearl millet, and also a variety of wild grasses, which pathogens have hitherto been much less studied. This also applies to an enigmatic downy mildew from Eragrostis cilianensis, which exhibits a chimeric appearance, with similarities to Basidiophora, Sclerophthora, and Sclerospora. In this study, the phylogenetic relationship of lovegrass downy mildew with respect to other genera of the Peronosporaceae was investigated and the characteristics of genera potentially associated with lovegrass downy mildew summarised from historic studies. A key based on the morphology of asexual stages is presented for all genera of downy mildews hitherto described. Based on morphological characteristics and sequence divergence, Sclerospora butleri is transferred to a new genus, Eraphthora. Lovegrass downy mildew seems to be widely distributed, as in addition to previous records from Malawi, India and Australia, we could now sample one specimen from Europe (Spilimbergo, Italy). Currently, it is unclear if Eraphthora butleri is able to infect the crop species Eragrostis tef, which might be a potential host of economic importance.


coxGraminicolous downy mildews Grass pathogens Phylogeny Peronosporaceae Sclerosporaceae 



We are grateful to the curators of the herbaria BRIP, DAR, and VPRI for sending specimens for investigation. This study was supported by the research funding programme “LOEWE – Landes-Offensive zur Entwicklung Wissenschaftlich-ökonomischer Exzellenz” of Hesse’s Ministry of Higher Education, Research, and the Arts and benefitted from the discoveries of Shennong and Kaldi.


  1. Barreto RW, Dick MW (1991) Monograph of Basidiophora (Oomycetes) with the description of a new species. Bot J Linn Soc 107:313–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Constantinescu O (1998) A revision of Basidiophora (Chromista, Peronosporales). Nova Hedwigia 66:251–265Google Scholar
  3. Dange SRS, Jain KL, Siradhana BS, Rathore RS (1973) Heteropogon contortus as a collateral host of sorghum downy mildew (Sclerospora sorghi) of maize in Rajasthan. Curr Sci 42:834Google Scholar
  4. Dick MW (2001) Straminipilous fungi. Kluwer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  5. Dick MW, Wong PTW, Clark G (1984) The identity of the oomycete causing ‘Kikuyu Yellows’, with a reclassification of the downy mildews. Bot J Linn Soc 89:171–197Google Scholar
  6. Erwin DC, Ribeiro OK (1996) Phytophthora Diseases Worldwide. APS, St Paul, MNGoogle Scholar
  7. Fischer A. (1892) Phycomycetes (4. Abteilung) In: Fischer A, Hauck F, Limpricht G, Luerssen Ch, Richter P, Winter G (eds) Dr. L. Rabenhorst’s Kryptogamen - Flora von Deutschland, Oesterreich und der Schweiz. Band 1: Die Pilze.Google Scholar
  8. Göker M, Voglmayr H, Riethmüller A, Weiß M, Oberwinkler F (2003) Taxonomic aspects of Peronosporaceae inferred from Bayesian molecular phylogenetics. Can J Bot 81:672–683CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Griffiths D (1907) Concerning some West American Fungi. Bull Torrey Bot Club 34:207–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hudspeth DSS, Nadler SA, Hudspeth MES (2000) A cox2 molecular phylogeny of the peronosporomycetes. Mycologia 92:674–684CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hudspeth DSS, Stenger D, Hudspeth MES (2003) A cox2 phylogenetic hypothesis for the downy mildew and white rusts. Fungal Divers 13:47–57Google Scholar
  12. Hopman E, Dekking L, Blokland M-L, Wuisman M, Zuijderduin W, Koning F, Schweizer J (2008) Tef in the diet of celiac patients in The Netherlands. Scand J Gastroenterol 43:277–282PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ito S (1913) Kleine Notizen über parasitische Pilze Japans. Mag Bot Tokyo 27:217–223Google Scholar
  14. Jeger MJ, Gilijamse E, Bock CH, Frinking HD (1998) The epidemiology, variability and control of the downy mildews of pearl millet and sorghum, with particular reference to Africa. Plant Pathol 47:544–569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Katoh K, Toh H (2008a) Recent developments in the MAFFT multiple sequence alignment program. Brief Bioinform 9:286–298PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Katoh K, Toh H (2008b) Improved accuracy of multiple ncRNA alignment by incorporating structural information into a MAFFT-based framework. BMC Bioinform 9:212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kenneth RG (1981) Downy Mildews of Graminiaceous Crops. In: Spencer DM (ed) The downy mildews. Academic, London, pp 367–419Google Scholar
  18. Kenneth RG, Kranz J (1973) Plasmopara penniseti sp. nov., a downy mildew of pearl millet in Ethiopia. Trans Br Mycol Soc 60:590–593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Naumov N (1913) Mate´riaux pour la flore mycologique de la Russie. Bulletin Trimestriel de la Socie´te´ Mycologique de. France 29:273–278Google Scholar
  20. Ramesh CR, Sukanya DH, Thakur RP, Rao VP (2003) Resistance to downy mildew (Sclerospora graminicola) in forage pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum). Ind J Agric Sci 73:327–330Google Scholar
  21. Riethmüller A, Voglmayr H, Göker M, Weiß M, Oberwinkler F (2002) Phylogenetic relationships of the downy mildews (Peronosporales) and related groups based on nuclear large subunit ribosomal DNA sequences. Mycologia 94:834–849PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Roze MEM, Cornu M (1869) Sur deux nouveaux types générique pour des familles Saprolégniées et des Péronosporées. Annal Sci Nat Bot 11:72–91Google Scholar
  23. Ryley MJ, Langdon RF (2001) Peronosclerospora eriochloae sp. nov. and other downy mildews on native grasses in Queensland, Australia. Mycotaxon 79:87–99Google Scholar
  24. Schröter J (1889) Pilze. In: Dr. F. Cohn's Kryptogamen-Flora von Schlesien. Volume 3, Part 1. Kern Verlag (Max Müller), Breslau, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  25. Shaw CG (1978) Peronosclerospora species and other downy mildews of the Gramineae. Mycologia 70:594–604Google Scholar
  26. Shirai M, Hara K (1927) A list of Japanese fungi hitherto known. Shizuoka, JapanGoogle Scholar
  27. Stamatakis A (2006) RAxML-VI-HPC: maximum likelihood-based phylogenetic analyses with thousands of taxa and mixed models. Bioinformatics 22:2688–2690PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Stamatakis A, Hoover P, Rougemont J (2008) A Rapid Bootstrap Algorithm for the RAxML Web-Servers. Syst Biol 75:758–771CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Tamura K, Dudley J, Nei M, Kumar S (2007) MEGA4: Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis (MEGA) software version 4.0. Mol Biol Evol 24:1596–1599PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Telle S, Thines M (2008) Amplification of cox2 (∼620 bp) from 2 mg of up to 129 years old Herbarium specimens, comparing 19 extraction methods and 15 polymerases. PLoS ONE 3:e3584PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Thines M (2009) Bridging the Gulf: Phytophthora and Downy Mildews Are Connected by Rare Grass Parasites. PLoS ONE 4:e4790PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Thines M, Göker M, Spring O, Oberwinkler F (2006) A revision of Bremia graminicola. Mycol Res 110:646–656PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Thines M, Göker M, Oberwinkler F, Spring O (2007) A revision of Plasmopara penniseti, with implications for the host range of the downy mildews with pyriform haustoria. Mycol Res 111:1377–1385PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Thines M, Göker M, Telle S, Ryley MJ, Mathur K, Narayana YD, Spring O, Thakur RP (2008) Phylogenetic relationships of graminicolous downy mildews based on coxII sequence data. Mycol Res 112:345–351PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Thirumalachar MJ, Narasimhan MJ (1949) Downy mildew on Eleusine coracana and Iseilema laxum in Mysore. Indian Phytopathol 2:46–51Google Scholar
  36. Thirumalachar MJ, Whitehead MD (1952) Sporangial phase of Sclerospora butleri. Am J Bot 39:416–418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Thirumalachar MJ, Shaw CG, Narasimhan MJ (1953) The sporangial phase of the downy mildew on Eleusine coracana with a discussion of the identity of Sclerospora macrospora Sacc. Bull Torrey Bot Club 80:299–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Viennot-Bourgin G (1959) Champignons nouveaux de la Guinée. Bull Soc Mycol Fr 75:33–37Google Scholar
  39. Weston WH (1931) Sclerospora butleri, a new species from Nyasaland. Phytopathology 21:125Google Scholar
  40. Weston WH (1933) A new Sclerospora from Nyasaland. Phytopathology 23:587–595Google Scholar
  41. Weston WH, Uppal BN (1932) The basis for Sclerospora sorghi as a species. Phytopathology 22:573–586Google Scholar

Copyright information

© German Mycological Society and Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F)Frankfurt (Main)Germany
  2. 2.Department of Biological Sciences, Institute of Ecology, Evolution and DiversityJohann Wolfgang Goethe University,Frankfurt (Main)Germany

Personalised recommendations