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Negative phase contrast image of Pythium sp.
Negative phase contrast image of Pythium sp.
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Chromista
Phylum: Oomycota
Order: Peronosporales
Family: Pythiaceae
Genus: Pythium
Pringsheim, 1858

See text

Pythium is a genus of parasitic oomycetes. They were formerly classified as fungi. Most species are plant parasites, but Pythium insidiosum is an important pathogen of animals, causing pythiosis. The feet of the fungus gnat are frequently a vector for their transmission.[1]


Pythium species, like others in the family Pythiaceae, are usually characterized by their production of coenocytic hyphae without septations.
Generally contain a single oospore.
Contain an elongated and club-shaped antheridium.

Ecological importance[edit]


Pythium-induced root rot is a common crop disease. When the organism kills newly emerged or emerging seedlings, it is known as damping off, and is a very common problem in fields and greenhouses.[2] Thus there is tremendous interest in genetic host resistance, but no crop has ever developed adequate resistance to Pythium.[3] This disease complex usually involves other pathogens such as Phytophthora and Rhizoctonia. Pythium wilt is caused by zoospore infection of older plants, leading to biotrophic infections that become necrotrophic in response to colonization/reinfection pressures or environmental stress,[2][4][5] leading to minor or severe wilting caused by impeded root functioning.[2][6]

Many Pythium species, along with their close relatives Phytophthora, are plant pathogens of economic importance in agriculture. Pythium spp. tend to be very generalistic and unspecific in their large range of hosts,[7] while Phytophthora spp. are generally more host-specific.

For this reason, Pythium spp. are more devastating in the root rot they cause in crops, because crop rotation alone often does not eradicate the pathogen as Pythium spp. are also good saprotrophs, and survive for a long time on decaying plant matter.

In field crops, damage by Pythium spp. is often limited to the area affected, as the motile zoospores require ample surface water to travel long distances. Additionally, the capillaries formed by soil particles act as a natural filter and effectively trap many zoospores. However, in hydroponic systems inside greenhouses, where extensive monocultures of plants are maintained in plant nutrient solution (containing nitrogen, potassium, phosphate, and micronutrients) that is continuously recirculated to the crop, Pythium spp. cause extensive and devastating root rot and is often difficult to prevent or control.[2][6][7][8] The root rot affects entire operations (tens of thousands of plants, in many instances) within two to four days due to the inherent nature of hydroponic systems where roots are nakedly exposed to the water medium, in which the zoospores can move freely.[6][7][8] Various Pythium populations have been known to have resistance to mefenoxam since the 1980s[9] and metalaxyl since 1984.[10]

Several Pythium species, including P. oligandrum, P. nunn, P. periplocum, and P. acanthicum, are mycoparasites of plant pathogenic fungi and oomycetes, and have received interest as potential biocontrol agents.


Globisporangium sylvaticum was formerly placed here as Pythium sylvaticum

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ecogrow Fungus Gnat". 17 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Jarvis, W. R. (1992). Managing diseases in greenhouse crops. Saint Paul, Minnesota: APS Press. ISBN 978-0-89054-122-7.[page needed]
  3. ^ Sutton, John Clifford; Sopher, Coralie Rachelle; Owen-Going, Tony Nathaniel; Liu, Weizhong; Grodzinski, Bernard; Hall, John Christopher; Benchimol, Ruth Linda (1990-01-06). "Etiology and epidemiology of Pythium root rot in hydroponic crops: current knowledge and perspectives". Summa Phytopathologica. 32 (4): 307–321. doi:10.1590/S0100-54052006000400001. ISSN 0100-5405.
  4. ^ Owen-Going, Tony Nathaniel (2005). Quantitative investigations of phenolic compounds associated with root rot of hydroponic pepper, Capsicum annuum L., caused by Pythium aphanidermatum (Edson) Fitzp (PhD thesis). University of Guelph. ISBN 978-0-494-17779-2. OCLC 271429383.[page needed]
  5. ^ T. N. Owen-Going; C. W. Beninger; J. C. Sutton & J. C. Hall (2008). "Accumulation of phenolic compounds in plants and nutrient solution of hydroponic peppers inoculated with Pythium aphanidermatum". Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology. 30 (2): 214–225. doi:10.1080/07060661.2008.10540537. S2CID 86573443.
  6. ^ a b c Bagnall, Roger (2007). Control of Pythium wilt and root rot of hydroponically grown lettuce by means of chemical treatment of the nutrient solution (MSc thesis). University of Pretoria. OCLC 216915405.[page needed]
  7. ^ a b c Owen-Going, Tony Nathaniel (2002). Etiology and epidemiology of Pythium root rot in bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) in commercial-scale and small-scale hydroponic systems (MSc thesis). University of Guelph. ISBN 978-0-612-71820-3. OCLC 55510696.
  8. ^ a b T. N. Owen-Going, J. C. Sutton & B. Grodzinski (2003). "Relationships of Pythium isolates and sweet pepper plants in single-plant hydroponic units". Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology. 25 (2): 155–167. doi:10.1080/07060660309507064. S2CID 85004809.
  9. ^ Del Castillo Múnera, Johanna; Hausbeck, Mary K. (2016). "Characterization of Pythium Species Associated With Greenhouse Floriculture Crops in Michigan". Plant Disease. American Phytopathological Society. 100 (3): 569–576. doi:10.1094/pdis-03-15-0296-re. ISSN 0191-2917. PMID 30688597.
  10. ^ Sanders, P. L. (1984). "Failure of Metalaxyl to Control Pythium Blight on Turfgrass in Pennsylvania". Plant Disease. American Phytopathological Society. 68 (1): 776. doi:10.1094/pd-68-776. ISSN 0191-2917.

Further reading[edit]