Ontogeny of the invasion process by Colletotrichum acutatum and C. fragariae was studied on petioles and stolons of the strawberry cultivar Chandler using light and electron microscopy. The invasion of host tissue by each fungal species was similar; however, each invasion event occurred more rapidly with C. fragariae than with C. acutatum. Following cuticular penetration via an appressorium, subsequent steps of invasion involved hyphal growth within the cuticle and within the cell walls of epidermal, subepidermal, and subtending cells. Both species of fungi began invasion with a brief biotrophic phase before entering an extended necrotrophic phase. Acervuli formed once the cortical tissue had been moderately disrupted and began with the development of a stroma just beneath the outer periclinal epidermal walls. Acervuli erupted through the cuticle and released conidia. Invasion of the vascular tissue typically occurred after acervulus maturation and remained minimal. Chitin distribution in walls of C. fragariae was visualized with gold-labeled wheat germ agglutinin. The outer layer of bilayered walls of conidia, germ tubes, and appressoria contained less chitin than unilayered hyphae in planta.
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