, Volume 123, Issue 1, pp 26-37

Early development ofRhizobium-induced root nodules ofParasponia rigida. I. Infection and early nodule initiation

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The first of two major steps in the infection process in roots ofParasponia rigida (Ulmaceae) following inoculation byRhizobium strain RP501 involves the invasion ofRhizobium into the intercellular space system of the root cortex. The earliest sign of root nodule initiation is the presence of clumps of multicellular root hairs (MCRH), a response apparently unique amongRhizobium-root associations. At the same time or shortly after MCRH are first visible, cell divisions are initiated in the outer root cortex of the host plant, always subjacent to the MCRH. No infection threads were observed in root hairs or cortical cells in early stages. Rhizobial entry through the epidermis and into the root cortex was shown to occur via intercellular invasion at the bases of MCRH. The second major step in the infection process is the actual infectionper se of host cells by the rhizobia and formation of typical intracellular infection threads with host cell accommodation. This infection step is probably the beginning of the truly symbiotic relationship in these nodules. Rhizobial invasion and infection are accompanied by host cortical cell divisions which result in a callus-like mass of cortical cells. In addition to infection thread formation in some of these host cortical cells, another type of rhizobial proliferation was observed in which large accumulations of rhizobia in intercellular spaces are associated with host cell wall distortion, deposition of electron-dense material in the walls, and occasional deleterious effects on host cell cytoplasm.