Plant Pathology Graduate Program

Michael D. Coffey

Michael D. Coffey
Office: 951-827-4764
3206 Webber 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)


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Evidence for the existence of two subpopulations in Phytophthora capsici and a redescription of the species. Mycological Res. 99: 89-102.
  • 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.
  • Costa, J., G. Mchau, and M.D. Coffey. 1996.Isozyme diversity among isolates of the Phytophthora megasperma complex. Fitopatologia Brasileira 21: 185-196.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

More Information

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University of California, Riverside
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Tel: (951) 827-1012

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Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology
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Tel: (951) 827-3598
Fax: (951) 827-2364
E-mail: jammy.yang@ucr.edu