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New species of unicellular obligate parasite, Olpidiopsis pyropiae sp. nov., that plagues Pyropia sea farms in Korea


Pyropia (Porphyra) sea farms are plagued with many diseases, similar to a land crop field. Olpidiopsis disease has been one of the most serious diseases causing multimillion dollars of economic loss every year. From 3 years of epidemiological studies in Pyropia sea farms, we found that the pathogen of Olpidiopsis disease in Korea is different from the oomycete, Olpidiopsis porphyrae, which is known to infect the commercially cultivated Pyropia yezoensis in Japan. The Korean species showed a clearly different small subunit (SSU) 18S rRNA sequence (90.4 % identity) and lacked four intron-like insertions, which are present in O. porphyrae. We therefore established a new species named Olpidiopsis pyropiae. The infection process and asexual life history of O. pyropiae were similar to O. porphyrae. Infection started when zoospores attached to the surface of Pyropia blade, lost flagella, and produced thin germ tubes that penetrated the cell walls of the host. Spherical multinucleate thalli developed within the cytoplasm of its algal host, which grew into mature sporangia within the next 2 days. The shape and size of sporangium was similar to that of the Japanese species, except for longer discharge tubes in O. pyropiae. Transmission electron microscopy revealed the presence of K-body-like organelles with tubular inclusions located close to the nucleus, which is one of the key characters of the genus. However, phylogenetic analysis based on SSU ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene data showed a loose affinity of the Korean species with the other marine Olpidiopsis spp.

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We thank all members of Kongju National University team who assisted during fieldwork. This research was supported by the Golden Seed Project, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA), Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF), Rural Development Administration (RDA), and Korea Forest Service (KFS). This research was also a part of the project titled “Development of selection technique of suitable industrial variety in Korean coast” funded by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Korea.

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Correspondence to Gwang Hoon Kim.

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Klochkova, T.A., Shin, Y.J., Moon, KH. et al. New species of unicellular obligate parasite, Olpidiopsis pyropiae sp. nov., that plagues Pyropia sea farms in Korea. J Appl Phycol 28, 73–83 (2016).

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  • Disease
  • Olpidiopsis
  • Oomycetes
  • Pathogen
  • Porphyra
  • Pyropia