Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), Station d'Amélioration des Arbres Forestiers, F 45160 ARDON, France
The course of the infection and development of the biotrophic fungus Melampsora larici-populina on leaf tissue from the hybrid poplar Populus deltoides × P. nigra ‘Ogy’ was monitored at the histological level. Leaf disks were inoculated with one of two rust physiological races (E1 and E2), resulting in interactions that were either incompatible (race E1) or compatible (race E2). In the compatible interaction, the fungus rapidly colonized the leaf without inducing any apparent host response. Symptoms appeared on the leaf several days after inoculation just prior to spore dissemination. The incompatible interaction was characterized by the early collapse and disorganization of cytoplasm of infected cells 17 h after inoculation and within 2 h after the appearance of the first haustoria. Resistance to M. larici-populina was mediated through a hypersensitive response, since it was extremely localized and involved only the few cells that were in the immediate vicinity of each infected cell.