Experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis that recognition of the physical structure of epicuticular leaf waxes by Erysiphe graminis may be important to the development of normal germlings and the formation of functional appressoria. Comparisons of germination rates and characteristics of germling development by E. graminis f.sp. avenae, and in one experiment by f.sp. hordei, were made between intact cereal leaves and leaves from which the epicuticular waxes had been stripped away.
Overall, fungal development was very similar on intact and wax-free leaves: although germination rates were slightly, but significantly, lower, and lengths of appressorial germ tubes slightly greater, on stripped than intact leaves, a very similar proportion of germlings formed apparently normal appressoria in both cases. This was true for f.sp. avenae on first- and fifth-formed leaves of susceptible and adult plant resistant oats, and on barley and wheat first leaves, and for f.sp. hordei on first leaves of barley, oat and wheat. The appressoria formed on stripped leaves not only appeared normal, but also formed haustoria with at least the same frequency as on intact leaves; in several experiments, a higher proportion formed haustoria in stripped than intact leaves. Wax removal did not affect the adult plant resistance of oat cv. Maldwyn, which limits haustorium formation by appressoria, indicating that epicuticular wax was not involved in this resistance. It is concluded that the physical structure of epicuticular wax is not involved in the recognition processes leading to normal germling development.