First author: Recherche en Sciences de la vie et de la santé, Pavillon Charles-Eugène Marchand, Université Laval, Sainte-Foy, Québec, Canada, G1K 7P4; and second, third, and fourth authors: Premier Tech ltée, 1 Avenue Premier, C.P. 3500, Rivière-du-Loup, Québec, Canada, G5R 4C9
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Accepted for publication 30 September 1999.
The potential of the endophytic bacterium Serratia plymuthica strain R1GC4 in stimulating defense reactions in cucumber (Cucumis sativus) seedlings inoculated with the soilborne pathogen Pythium ultimum was explored at the cellular level. Bacterial treatment prior to Pythium inoculation resulted in less seedling disease development as compared with that in nontreated control plants, in which typical root symptoms were visible by 3 days after inoculation with the pathogen. Histological investigations of root samples revealed striking differences in the extent of plant defense reactions between bacterized and nonbacterized plants. These observations were further confirmed at the ultrastructural level with the demonstration that restriction of fungal colonization to the outermost root tissues of bacterized seedlings correlated with the deposition of enlarged callose-enriched wall appositions at sites of potential pathogen penetration and the accumulation of an osmiophilic material in the colonized areas. Hyphae of the pathogen, surrounded by this electron-opaque material, exhibited considerable changes including cytoplasm disorganization and, in many cases, loss of the protoplasm. However, labeling with the β-1,4-exoglucanase resulted in a regular labeling of Pythium cell walls, even at a time when these walls were entirely coated by the osmiophilic material. This material was also found to infiltrate into the invading hyphae to form either an internal coating of the cell wall or a network of polymorphic droplets in the area previously occupied by the cytoplasm. Cytochemical investigations revealed that callose, pectin, and cellulose appeared in the wall appositions. In addition, glucosides, lipids, and phenolics were detected in the electron-dense aggregates forming the core of most wall appositions. Finally, galactose residues were among the minor polysaccharidic compounds detected in the wall appositions. Evidence is provided in this study showing that treatment with S. plymuthica sensitizes susceptible cucumber plants to react more rapidly and more efficiently to Pythium attack through the formation of physical and chemical barriers at sites of potential fungal entry.
© 2000 The American Phytopathological Society