Blumeria (=Erysiphe) graminis f.sp. tritici (Bgt), the causal agent of wheat powdery mildew, is responsible for an important disease leading to considerable yield reductions in wheat worldwide. Conidia of the obligate plant pathogen Bgt were analysed for their total fatty acid (FA) composition as a function of their ontogeny. A total of 17 FAs were detected (C(12)-C(24) saturated and unsaturated ones), including the presence of unusual long-chain monoenoic FAs. In young conidia, the major FAs were C(18:2) (23%), C(16:0) (16%), C(18:0) (15.2%) and C(18:1) (14.3%). In old conidia, the main FAs were C(24:1) (20.7%), C(22:0) (15%), C(22:1) (13.5%) and C(24:0) (9.7%). The amount of total FA was about 39 microg.mg of dry weight(-1) in young conidia and decreased clearly to 18 microg.mg of dry weight(-1) in older conidia. For the first time, we have demonstrated that the FA composition of conidia changes greatly with age. Medium-chain FAs (C(12)-C(18)) are predominant in very young conidia (75%), whereas long-chain FAs (C(22)-C(24)) are the major compounds in old conidia (74%). This study showed a significant elongation of FAs and a drastic decrease in the total FA amount during the ontogeny of conidia.