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Keywords:

  • crown rot;
  • fluorescence microscopy;
  • Fusarium ;
  • staining

Histopathological assessment of infection by the crown rot pathogen Fusarium pseudograminearum in wheat seedling tissues was performed using fluorescence microscopy. The coleoptiles and leaf sheaths of four host cultivars of differing susceptibility were examined. Leaf sheaths were most frequently penetrated via stomata, indicated by initial lesions forming at the guard cells. Internally, cell wall penetration was facilitated by penetration structures which appeared as hyphal swellings or septate foot-shaped appressoria. Colonization of leaf sheaths resulted in the re-emergence of hyphae from stomata on both surfaces of the sheath. These hyphae are hypothesized to have two major roles; first as exploratory hyphae for colonization of new tissues, and secondly as sites of profuse conidial production. The formation of conidia on the leaf sheath surface was only recorded on the most susceptible bread wheat genotype. No other major differences in host–pathogen interactions were observed among these cultivars. Almost all cell types in the leaf sheath tissues were extensively colonized, except for the vascular bundles and silica cells. This investigation provides the first comprehensive assessment of F. pseudograminearum infection structures and growth patterns during the infection of wheat seedlings.