Rhizoctonia solani is a plant pathogenic fungus with a wide host range. Host plant specificity within R. solani was analysed on seedlings grown aseptically on agar, which allowed continuous observation of both the fungus and the whole plant without disturbing the interaction. Symptom development on cauliflower, Arabidopsis, eggplant, tomato and potato by 32 R. solani isolates, belonging to six different anastomosis groups (AGs), was studied. Host plant specificity of isolates, as analysed by similarity clustering, was similar to AG-related host plant specificity as observed in the field, with AG3 isolates (except two avirulent strains) separating from the other isolates. Two R. solani isolates with a reciprocal pathogenicity on cauliflower and tomato were selected for further studies. These showed that in the pathogenic combination, R. solani isolates grew over the plant, adhered and formed infection structures, while in the nonpathogenic combination isolates grew over the plant, but neither adhesion nor the formation of infection structures occurred. From these data, it was concluded that host plant specificity is mediated in the early steps of the infection process.
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