Phytophthora infestans is an oomycete or water mold, a microorganism that causes the serious potato and tomato disease known as late blight or potato blight. Late blight was a major culprit in the 1840s European, the 1845 Irish, and the 1846 Highland potato famines. The organism can also infect some other members of the Solanaceae. The pathogen is favored by moist, cool environments: sporulation is optimal at 12–18 °C in water-saturated or nearly saturated environments, and zoospore production is favored at temperatures below 15 °C. Lesion growth rates are typically optimal at a slightly warmer temperature range of 20 to 24 °C.
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