Evidence for high degrees of specialisation, evolutionary diversity, and morphological distinctiveness in the genus Bremia

Young Joon Choi, Marco Thines, Fabian Runge, Seung Beom Hong, Sabine Telle, Hyeon Dong Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Bremia lactucae is one of the most important pathogens in lettuce production. Recent molecular studies revealed considerable genetic variation in this species complex. However, only few accessions from the same host have been examined for most species and no study investigating the morphological distinctiveness of phylogenetic lineages of Bremia has so far been reported. Thus it is believed that morphological species delimitation in Bremia is not feasible. In the present study, multiple accessions of neglected species, which had been described decades ago, but have not been widely accepted, were investigated, considering both multi-gene phylogenies and morphological characters. All previously described species from host genera other than Lactuca investigated, Bremia microspora, Bremia ovata, Bremia saussureae, and Bremia sonchicola, could be confirmed as distinct, host-specific entities. Also, morphological characteristics of their conidiophores and conidia allowed delimitation of these species. Therefore, not only the wide species concept to merge all Bremia species on the Asteraceae under B. lactucae is inappropriate but also their delimitation on the basis of morphological characters seems feasible. In addition, it has been shown that Bremia elliptica is phylogenetically distinct from the other species infecting the genus Lactuca, B. lactucae. It is therefore concluded that B. lactucae is most likely limited to Lactuca sativa and closely-related species, and that most species of Bremia are highly host specific. This finding might stimulate the search for durable resistance genes in genera closely related to the genus Lactuca and in divergent species of the genus itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-111
Number of pages10
JournalFungal Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Feb


  • Conidial morphology
  • Host specificity
  • Multi-gene genealogy
  • Peronosporaceae
  • Species delimitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Infectious Diseases


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