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Ustilago maydis Infection of the Nonnatural Host Arabidopsis thaliana

May 2005 , Volume 95 , Number  5
Pages  480 - 488

Lucila Méndez-Morán , Cristina G. Reynaga-Peña , Patricia S. Springer , and José Ruiz-Herrera

First, second, and fourth authors: Departamento de Ingeniería Genética, Unidad de Biotecnología e Ingeniería Genética de Plantas, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del IPN, Apartado Postal 629, 36500 Irapuato, Gto., México; and third author: Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California, Riverside 92507

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Accepted for publication 4 January 2005.

The experimental infection of Arabidopsis thaliana by the maize phytopathogenic hemibasidiomycete Ustilago maydis under axenic conditions is described. When plantlets were inoculated with mixtures of compatible haploids, the fungus was able to grow on the plant surface of inoculated seedlings in the form of white mycelium and invade the tissues, probably penetrating through stomata; however, it did not form teliospores. Symptoms of disease were increased anthocyanin formation, development of chlorosis, increased formation of secondary roots, induction of malformations in the leaves and petioles, induction of tissue necrosis, and stunting. In several cases, death of the invaded plants occurred. Interestingly, inoculation of single U. maydis haploid strains produced similar symptoms in Arabidopsis plantlets. In contrast, several mutants avirulent to maize also were avirulent or less virulent than wildtype strains on Arabidopsis. Collectively, the reported data suggest that the U. maydis-Arabidopsis pathosystem may constitute a useful experimental model for the analysis of some aspects of the virulence factors of the fungus. With the study of nonhost responses and their comparison to those occurring during maize infection, we will be able to elucidate some obscure aspects of U. maydis pathogenicity in the future.

© 2005 The American Phytopathological Society