Mating type and sexual reproduction of Pseudoperonospora cubensis, the downy mildew agent of cucurbits

Yigal Cohen, Avia E. Rubin

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34 Scopus citations


The oomycete Pseudoperonospora cubensis is a leaf pathogen causing severe damage to members of the Cucurbitaceae, especially cucumber and melon. It propagates clonally by sporangia. Oospores of P. cubensis were previously observed in nature but their formation in the laboratory was never reported nor their germination or infection. Here we report on the sexual reproduction of P. cubensis under controlled conditions in the laboratory. When field isolates were inoculated singly onto detached leaves of cucurbits in growth chambers no oospores were produced. However, when pairs of selected isolates were mixed and inoculated onto detached leaves, oospores were formed in the mesophyll within 6-11 days, suggesting that P. cubensis is heterothallic, having two opposite mating types, A1 and A2. Isolates belonging to pathotype 3 were all A1 whereas isolates belonging to the new pathotype 6 were either A1 or A2. Oospores were spherical, ~40 μm in diameter, hyaline to red-brown in color. Oospores were produced regularly, in large numbers, in Cucumis sativum and Cucumis melo, very seldom and in very small numbers in Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita maxima and Citrullus lanatus, and not in Cucurbita moschata. Oospores were formed at 12.5-21°C but not at 25°C. Under moisture-saturated atmosphere oospores were also produced in leaves of intact plants. Oospores inoculated onto detached leaves in growth chambers produced F1 downy mildew lesions at 6-21 days after inoculation, many in Cucumis sativum, Cucumis melo and Cucurbita moschata, very few in Cucurbita pepo or Citrullus lanatus, and none in Cucurbita maxima. This report shows that P. cubensis is heterothallic, having A1 and A2 mating types which can cross and enable sexual reproduction in cucurbits. A preliminary report on part of the results has been published earlier.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-592
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Plant Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Cucumber
  • Epidemiology
  • Melon
  • Oospore infection
  • Oospore production


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