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Cytology of Infection of Maize Seedlings by Fusarium moniliforme and Immunolocalization of the Pathogenesis-Related PRms Protein

September 1999 , Volume 89 , Number  9
Pages  737 - 747

I. Murillo , L. Cavallarin , and B. San Segundo

Departamento de Genética Molecular, Instituto de Biología Molecular, Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de Barcelona, CSIC, Jordi Girona 18, 08034 Barcelona, Spain

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Accepted for publication 2 June 1999.

We have investigated the histology of infection of maize seedlings by Fusarium moniliforme in association with a biochemical host defense response, the accumulation of the PRms (pathogenesis-related maize seed) protein. Light microscopy of trypan blue-stained sections and scanning electron microscopy revealed direct penetration by F. moniliforme hyphae through the epidermal cells of the seedling and colonization of the host tissue by inter- and intracellular modes of growth. Pathogen ingress into the infected tissue was associated with the induction of defense-related ultrastructural modifications, as exemplified by the formation of appositions on the outer host cell wall surface, the occlusion of intercellular spaces, and the formation of papillae. Cellular and subcellular immunolocalization studies revealed that PRms accumulated at very high levels in those cells types that represent the first barrier for fungal penetration such as the aleurone layer of germinating seeds and the scutellar epithelial cells of isolated germinating embryos. A highly localized accumulation of PRms within papillae of the inner scutellar parenchyma cells also occurred, suggesting that signaling mechanisms that lead to the accumulation of PRms in papillae of cell types that are distant from the invading pathogen must operate in the infected maize tissues. Our study also revealed the presence of a large number of fungal cells with an abnormal shape that showed PRms-specific labeling. PRms was found to accumulate in clusters over the fungal cell wall. Taken together, the occurrence of PRms in cell types that first establish contact with the pathogen, as well as in papillae, and in association with fungal cell walls suggests that PRms may have a function in the plant defense response.

Additional keywords: fungal colonization, host reactions, seed germination.

© 1999 The American Phytopathological Society