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In growth room regimes arranged to simulate field conditions which coincide with natural infection of oilseed rape by Leptosphaeria maculans, leaf inoculation resulted in systemic infection. After colonizing intercellular spaces in the spongy mesophyll of the lamina, the fungus reached a vascular strand and spread down the petiole mainly in xylem vessels or between cells of the xylem parenchyma and cortex, eventually invading and killing cells of the stem cortex and causing the stem canker symptom. The intercellular systemic phase of growth, which was biotrophic and virtually sytnptomless, occurred under a wide range of temperatures.