Plant Pathology Graduate Program

Michael D. Coffey

Michael D. Coffey
Office: 951-827-4764
2435 Boyce Hall
Office Hours: , not specified - not specified
Email: coffey@ucr.edu

Michael D. Coffey

Professor of Plant Pathology & Plant Pathologist

Phytophthora systematics, genetics, and pathology
PhD Plant Biology 1968 -- University of Wales 
BSc Agricultural Botany 1965 -- University College of North Wales

Biography & Research Interests


Research Specialization - Oomycetes are unique microscopic organisms that are traditionally regarded as fungi. However, despite their superficial similarity they are no more closely related to fungi than are higher plants or animals. Their closest kin are diatoms and giant kelp. The most important genera in the Oomycetes are Pythium and Phytophthora. For over 30 years I have conducted research on many species of Phytophthora including the infamous species P. infestans that attacks potato and tomato causing the devastating disease known as Late Blight. Research on this species has led me to the Andes in search of resistant plants among the wild species and to Russia where currently Late Blight destroys over half their most important potato crop. Another very important Phytophthora species is P. palmivora which attacks tropical crops including coconut, cacao and durian. My research on this species has taken me to Southeast Asia in cooperative programs with International organizations such as the UN/FAO and IAEA. But Oomycetes are more than destructive plant pathogens they are important components of the biosphere in soils, water and marine estuaries. It is this aspect of their biology that has increasingly attracted my interest. In an expedition to the Amazon rainforest I have collected specimens from soil and water and over the years have accumulated a collections of the Halophytophthora species inhabiting marine environments. Thus Oomycetes, besides their great importance as destructive plant pathogens, occupy diverse niches and their evolution, basic biology and fundamental role in the natural environment awaits further exciting and extensive exploration. This is my research world!


  • Butler Medal (Ireland)
  • Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin (FTCD)


Rojas, JA, Miles, TD, Coffey, MD, Martin, FN ans Cilders, M. 2017. Development and application of qPCR and RPA genus and species-specific detection of Phytophthora sojae and Phytophthora sansomeana root rot pathogens of soybean.  Plant Disease (Accepted)

Miles, TD, Martin, FN, Robideau, GP,  Bilodeau, GJ and Coffey, MD2017.  Systematic development of Phytophthora species-specific mitochondrial diagnostic markers for economically important members of the genus.  Plant Disease  (Accepted)

Miles, TD, Martin, FN, and Coffey, MD2015.  Development of rapid isothermal amplification assays for detection of Phytophthora species in plant tissuePhytopathology 105:  265-278.

Mohammad Ziaur Rahman, Seiji Uematsu, Michael David Coffey, Shihomi Uzuhashi , Haruhisa Suga, Koji Kageyama. 2014. Re-evaluation of Japanese Phytophthora isolates based on molecular phylogenetic analyses. Mycoscience 55 (4): 314-327.

Bilodeau, GJ, Martin, FN, Coffey, MD, and Blomquist, CL. 2014Development of a multiplex assay for genus and species-specific detection of Phytophthora based on differences in mitochondrial gene orderPhytopathology  104:  733-748.

Martin, FN, Blair, JE, and Coffey, MD. 2014. A combined  mitochondrial and nuclear multilocus phylogeny of the genus Phytophthora. Fungal Genetics and Biology: 66: 19-32.

Park, B, Martin, F, Geiser, DM, Kim, H-S, Mansfield, MA, Nikolaeva, E, Park, S-Y, Coffey, MD, Russo, J, Kim, SH, Balci, Y, Abad, G, Burgess, T, Grunwald, NJ, Cheong, K, Choi, J, Lee,  Y-H, and Kang, S.  2013.  Phytophthora database 2.0: update and future direction. Phytopathology 103: 1204-1208.

Mammella, MA, Martin, FN, Cacciola, SO, Coffey, MD, Faedda, R, and Schena, L. 2013Analyses of the population structure in a global collection of Phytophthora nicotianae isolates  inferred from mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequencesPhytopathology 103: 610-622.

Chen, W, Djama, ZR, Coffey, MD, Martin, FN, Bilodeau, G, Radmer, L,  Denton, G, and Levesque, CA. 2013.  Membrane-based oligonucleotide array developed from multiple markers for the detection of many Phytophthora speciesPhytopathology 103: 43-54.

Martin, FN, and Coffey, MD. 2012Mitochondrial haplotype analysis for differentiation of  isolates of Phytophthora cinnamomi. Phytopathology 102:  229-239.

Blair, JE, Coffey, MD, and Martin, FN. 2012Species tree estimation for the late blight pathogen, Phytophthora infestans, and close relatives. PloS ONE 7(5): e37003. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037003

Chaparro-Garcia, A, Wilkinson, RC, Gimenez-Ibanez, S, Findlay, K, and Coffey, MD, Zipfel, C, Rathjen, JP, Kamoun, S, and Schorneck, S. 2011. The receptor-like kinase SERK3/BAK1 is required for basal resistance against the late blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans in Nicotiana benthamiana. PloS ONE 6: e16608.

Robideau, GP, De Cock, AW,  Coffey, MD, Voglmayr, H, Brouwer, H, Bala, K, Chitty, DW, Desaulniers, N, Eggertson, QA, Gachon, CM, Hu, CH, Kupper, FC, Rintoul, TL, Sarhan,  E, Verstappen, EC, Zhang, Y, Bonants, PJ, Ristaino, JB and Levesque, CA. 2011DNA  barcoding of oomycetes with cytochrome c oxidase subunit I and internal transcribed spacer. Mol Ecol Resour. 11: 1002-1011.

Grunwald, NJ, Martin, FN, Larsen, M, Sullivan, C, Press, CM, Coffey, MD, Hansen, EM, and   Parke, JL. 2011Phytophthora-ID.org: a sequence based Phytophthora identification toolPlant Disease 95: 337-342.

Bala, K., Robideau, GP, Levesque, CA, de Cock, AWAM, Abad, ZG, Lodhi, AM, Shahzad, S, Ghafar, A. and Coffey, MD2010.  Phytopythium sindhum Lodhi, Shahzad & Levesque, sp. nov. Persoonia 24:12-13.

Abbott, C.L, Gilmore, S.R, Lewis, CT, Chapados, JT, Peters, RD, Platt, HW, Coffey, MD, and Levesque, CA. Development of a SNP genetic marker system based on variation in microsatellite flanking regions ofPhytophthora infestans. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology. 32: 440-457.

Kang, S, Mansfield, M, Park, B, Geiser, D, Ivors, K, Coffey, MD, Grunwald, N. Martin, F, Levesque, CA, and Blair, JE. 2010.  The promise and pitfalls of sequence based identifications of plant-pathogenic fungi and Oomycetes. Phytopathology 100: 732-737.

Hyder, N, Coffey, MD, and Stanghellini, ME. Viability of oomycete propagules following ingestion and excretion by fungus gnats, shore flies, and snails. Plant Disease 93: 720-726.

Martin, FN, Coffey, MD, Zeller, K., Hamelin, R.C., Tooley, P., Garbelotto, M, Hughes, K. J. D., Kubisiak, T. Bilodeau, G.J., Levy, L., Blomquist, C. and Berger, P.H. Evaluation of molecular markers for Phytophthora ramorum detection and identification: testing for specificity using a standardized library of isolates. Phytopathology 99: 390-403

Abad, GZ, Abad, JA, Coffey, MD, Oudemans, PV, Man in ’t Veld, WA, de Gruyter, H,n, J. and Louws, F.J. 2008Phytophthora bisheria nov., a new species identified in isolates from the Rosaceous raspberry, rose and strawberry in three continents. Mycologia 100: 99-110.

Jaime E. Blair, Michael D. Coffey, Sook-Young Park, David M. Geiser, and Seogchan Kang. A multi-locus phylogeny for Phytophthora utilizing markers from complete genome sequencesFungal Genetics and Biology 45: 266-277.

Kang S, Blair JE, Geiser DM, Khang C, Park S, Gahegan M, O’Donnell K, Luster DG, Ivors KI, Kim SH, Lee Y, Lee Y, Grünwald NJ, Martin FM, Coffey MD, Veeraraghavan N, Makalowska 2006. Plant pathogen culture collections: It takes a village to preserve these resources vital to the advancement of agricultural security and plant pathology. Phytopathology 96: 920-925

Older Publications:

Fφrster, H., M.P. Cummings, and M.D. Coffey. 2000. Phylogenetic relationships of Phytophthora species based on ITS 1 DNA sequence analysis with emphasis on Waterhouse groups V and VI. Mycological Research 104: 1055-1061.

Punja, Z.K. H. Fφrster, I Cunningham, and M.D. Coffey. 1998. Genotypes of the late blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans in British Columbia and other regions of Canada during 1993-1997. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology 20: 274-282.

Gijzen, M., H. Fφrster, M.D. Coffey, and B. Tyler. 1996. Cosegregation of Avr4 and Avr6 in Phytophthora sojae. Canadian Journal of Botany 74: 800-802.

Costa, J., G. Mchau, and M.D. Coffey. 1996.Isozyme diversity among isolates of the Phytophthora megasperma complex. Fitopatologia Brasileira 21: 185-196.

Tyler, B.M., H. Fφrster, and M.D. Coffey. 1995. Inheritance of avirulence factors and restriction fragment length polymorphism markers in outcrosses of oomycete Phytophthora sojae. Mol. Plant-Microbe Interactions 8: 515-523.

Mchau, G.R.A. and M.D. Coffey. 1994. Evidence for the existence of two subpopulations in Phytophthora capsici and a redescription of the species. Mycological Res. 99: 89-102.

Fφrster, H., B.M. Tyler, and M.D. Coffey. 1994. Phytophthora sojae races have arisen by clonal evolution and by rare outcrosses. Mol. Plant Microbe 7(6): 780-791.

Mchau, G.R.A. and M.D. Coffey. 1994. An integrated study of morphological and isozyme patterns found within a worldwide collection of Phytophthora citrophthora and a redescription of the species. Mycological Res. 98: 1291-1299.

Mchau, G.R.A. and M.C. Coffey. 1994. Isozyme diversity in Phytophthora palmivora: evidence for a southeast Asian centre of origin. Mycologicial Res. 98:1035-1043.

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