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Prepenetration stages in infection of clematis by Phoma clematidina
A detailed study of conidial germination, germ-tube growth and the formation of infection structures in Phoma clematidina, the causal agent of clematis wilt, is described for two clematis varieties differing in disease resistance. On both the resistant and susceptible varieties, the fungus entered leaves and stems by direct penetration of the cuticle, often, but not always, following the formation of infection structures. More germ tubes per conidium were formed on the susceptible host, but these germ tubes were on average shorter than on the resistant host. Although germ tubes regularly entered the plant via trichomes, stomata were not found to be sites of entry. Following penetration of the cuticle of resistant plants, germ-tube growth was sometimes restricted to the subcuticular region, and halo formation occurred at the sites where penetration was attempted. Subcuticular growth and halo formation were not observed on susceptible plants. These observations may partly explain the resistance of small-flowered clematis varieties to P. clematidina.