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New Phytol. 2007;176(1):211-22.

Pathways of infection of Brassica napus roots by Leptosphaeria maculans.

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CSIRO Plant Industry, GPO Box 1600, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.


Infection of Brassica napus cotyledons and leaves by germinating ascospores of Leptosphaeria maculans leads to production of leaf lesions followed by stem cankers (blackleg). Leptosphaeria maculans also causes root rot but the pathway of infection has not been described. An L. maculans isolate expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) was applied to the petiole of B. napus plants. Hyphal growth was followed by fluorescence microscopy and by culturing of sections of plant tissue on growth media. Leptosphaeria maculans grew within stem and hypocotyl tissue during the vegetative stages of plant growth, and proliferated into the roots within xylem vessels at the onset of flowering. Hyphae grew in all tissues in the stem and hypocotyl, but were restricted mainly to xylem tissue in the root. Leptosphaeria maculans also infected intact roots when inoculum was applied directly to them and hyphae entered at sites of lateral root emergence. Hyphal entry may occur at other sites but the mechanism is uncertain as penetration structures were not observed. Infection of B. napus roots by L. maculans can occur via above- and below-ground sources of inoculum, but the relative importance of the infection pathways under field conditions is unknown.

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