Lehrstuhl für Phytopathologie, Fakultät für Biologie, Universität Konstanz D-78434 Konstanz, Germany
Basidiospore germlings of the cowpea rust fungus (Uromyces vignae) penetrate the epidermal cell wall of the nonhost plant Vicia faba. In order to characterize the wall structure of the penetration site, leaves were high pressure frozen, freeze substituted, and embedded in appropriate resins. With antibodies against epitopes present in pectin, polygalacturonic acid, xyloglucan, and callose, we studied the modification of these wall components during infection. The density of epitopes was determined at the penetration site and compared with noninfected areas of the epidermal wall. Along the fungal penetration hypha, a zone of the plant wall, 0.2 μm wide, exhibited a reduced density of pectin and xyloglucan epitopes. A similar reduction of epitope density was also found for xyloglucan after treatment of sections from noninoculated plants with cellulase and xylanase and for pectin after treatment with pectinase. The density of polygalacturonic acid epitopes remained unchanged in the outer layer of the epidermal wall, but increased over the inner layer. A high density of polygalacturonic acid epitopes was found over a collarlike wall apposition produced by the plant cell along the penetration hypha. These results indicate that the fungus degrades the plant cell wall at the penetration site and that the plant cell secretes new wall material into this area to form the wall apposition.