Seeds may be infected as soon as moisture penetrates the seed coat or a bit later as the radicle begins to extend, all of which rot immediately under the soil surface (pre-emergence damping-off). This condition results in a poor, uneven stand of seedlings, often confused with low seed viability. Cotyledons may break the soil surface only to whither and die or healthy looking seedlings may suddenly fall over (post-emergence damping-off). Infection results in lesions at or below the soil line. The seedling will discolor or wilt suddenly, or simply collapse and die. Weak seedlings are especially susceptible to attack by one or more fungi when growing conditions are only slightly unfavorable. Damping-off is easily confused with plant injury caused by insect feeding, excessive fertilization, high levels of soluble salts, excessive heat or cold, excessive or insufficient soil moisture, or chemical toxicity in air or soil.Above ground symptoms of root rot include stunting, low vigor, or wilting on a warm day. Foliage of such plants may yellow and fall prematurely starting with the oldest leaves. The roots of a diseased plant will have some shade of brown or black and evidence of water-soaking. Healthy roots are fibrous appearing and are usually white or tan in color. These symptoms are easily confused with severe mite, aphid, scale infestations, or root-feeding by nematodes or insect larvae. Environmental factors such as accumulated salts in the soil, insufficient light or nitrogen, potbound roots, cold drafts, etc. can be eliminated only by examination of the roots.
- Reference: http://tomclothier.hort.net/page13.html
Presence among species