The effects of a host plant on reproduction/abundance of fungal populations in relation to soil nutrients released by plants in the rhizosphere were studied. Abundance in the soil and potato rhizosphere of the fungi Paecilomyces lilacinus, Monographella cucumerina (CABI 380408) and Pochonia chlamydosporia var. chlamydosporia (Pc280, potato cyst nematode biotype) and P. chlamydosporia var. catenulata (Pc392, root-knot nematode biotype) were assessed. The different ability of break crops (oilseed rape, sugarbeet and wheat) in the potato rotation to support Pa. lilacinus, Pochonia isolates Pc280 and Pc392 and abundance of the latter two isolates in soil and rhizosphere of potato plants infected with Meloidogyne incognita were also studied. Potato chits and crop seedlings were planted into boiling tubes containing 5000 chlamydospores or conidia g−1 in acid washed sand (pH 6) and kept in a growth chamber at 20°C, and 16 h of light for up to 9 weeks. The abundance of the fungi in sand (fallow) differed significantly between fungal species, being in general less abundant in the absence than in the presence of the plant, although there was no interaction between plant species and fungal isolate. There was evidence of a different response to Me. incognita for Pc392 than for Pc280 but there was no significant effect of the presence of the nematode on the rate of increase of the fungus.