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Histological Comparison of Fibrous Root Infection of Disease-Tolerant and Susceptible Citrus Hosts by Phytophthora nicotianae and P. palmivora

May 1998 , Volume 88 , Number  5
Pages  389 - 395

T. L. Widmer , J. H. Graham , and D. J. Mitchell

First and third authors: Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida, IFAS, Gainesville 32611; and second author: Citrus Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 700 Experiment Station Road, Lake Alfred 33850

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Accepted for publication 9 February 1998.

Phytophthora nicotianae and P. palmivora infect and cause rot of fibrous roots of susceptible and tolerant citrus rootstocks in Florida orchards. The infection and colonization by the two Phytophthora spp. of a susceptible citrus host, sour orange (Citrus aurantium), and a tolerant host, trifoliate orange (Poncirus trifoliata), were compared using light and electron microscopy. Penetration by both Phytophthora spp. occurred within 1 h after inoculation, regardless of the host species. No differences were observed in mode of penetration of the hypodermis or the hosts' response to infection. After 24 h, P. palmivora had a significantly higher colonization of cortical cells in susceptible sour orange than in tolerant trifoliate orange. Intracellular hyphae of both Phytophthora spp. were observed in the cortex of sour orange, and cortical cells adjacent to intercellular hyphae of P. palmivora were disrupted. In contrast, the cortical cells of sour orange and trifoliate orange adjacent to P. nicotianae hyphae and the cortical cells of trifoliate orange adjacent to P. palmivora were still intact. After 48 h, the cortical cells of both hosts adjacent to either Phytophthora spp. were disrupted. After 48 and 72 h, P. palmivora hyphae colonized the cortex of sour orange more extensively than the cortex of trifoliate orange; P. palmivora also colonized both hosts more extensively than P. nicotianae. A higher rate of electrolyte leakage among host-pathogen combinations reflected the combined effects of greater cell disruption by P. palmivora than by P. nicotianae, and the higher concentration of electrolytes in healthy roots of trifoliate orange than of sour orange. Although cellular responses unique to the tolerant host were not observed, reduced hyphal colonization by both pathogens in the cortex of trifoliate orange compared with sour orange is evidence for a putative resistance factor(s) in the trifoliate orange roots that inhibits the growth of Phytophthora spp.

© 1998 The American Phytopathological Society