In a series of growth room experiments in which leaves of Brassica napus var. oleifera were inoculated with ascospores or pycnidiospores of Leptosphaeria maculans successful infections progressed through three consecutive phases. Initial establishment in the mesophyll was succeeded by a phase of intercellular exploration, when hyphal proliferation was highly variable and host cell necrosis always ensued, and then by a systemic phase when hyphae were consistently sparse. Host cells associated with the hyphal front were capable of autofluorescence, accumulation of vital stains and plasmolysis, indicating that they were viable and that the pathogen was biotrophic throughout this sequence. During either of the first two phases permanent fungistatic containment, involving the formation of vesicles by disintegration of the hyphae, often occurred. Localization at the first phase was symptomless; at the second it was signified by a lesion with a clearly defined margin.

There was a negative correlation between biotrophic potential and necrotrophic potential of three pathogenic isolates, on both the moderately susceptible cultivar Primor and the resistant cultivar Jet Neuf. As leaves aged, a progressively larger proportion of infections failed to become systemic. With increasing inoculum load, symptomless localization of infection diminished, the phase of necrosis extended, and the probability of irreversible systemic development increased.