Potassium homeostatsis influences the locomotion and encystment of zoospores of plant pathogenic oomycetes

Alex A. Appiah, Pieter Van West, M. C. Osborne, Neil A. R. Gow

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Zoospores of plant pathogenic oomycetes exhibit distinct swimming speeds and patterns Under natural conditions. Zoospore swimming is influenced by ion homeostasis and changes in the ionic composition of media. Therefore, we used video microscopy to investigate swimming patterns of five oomycete species in response to changes in potassium homeostasis. In general,zoospore speed tended to be negatively correlated with zoospore size. Three Phytophthora species (Phytophthora palmivora, Phytophthora megakarya, and Phytophthora infestans) swain in straight patterns with speeds ranging from 50 to 250 mum/s whereas two Pythium species (Pythium aphanidermatum and Pythium dissotocum) swam at similar speeds ranging from 180 to 225 mum/s with a pronounced helical trajectory and varying amplitudes. High external concentrations of potassium salts reduced the swimming speed of Ph. palmivora and induced encystment. This was not observed for Py. aphanidermanan. Application of the potassium ionophores gramicidin, nigericin and valinomycin resulted in reduced swimming speeds and changes in the swimming patterns of the Phytophthora Species. Therefore. potassium tons play a key role in regulating zoospore behavior. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-223
Number of pages10
JournalFungal Genetics and Biology
Issue number3
Early online date11 Jan 2005
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005


  • oomycetes
  • ionophores
  • Phytophthora infestans
  • Phytophthora megakarya
  • Phytophthora palmivora
  • Pythium aphanidermatum
  • Pythium dissotocum
  • zoospore behaviour
  • Phytophthora-palmivora
  • phytopathogenic fungi
  • Pythium
  • calcium
  • germination
  • parasitica
  • hydroponics
  • gramicidin
  • infection


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