, Volume 220, Issue 3, pp 189–200

Dodder hyphae invade the host: a structural and immunocytochemical characterization

  • K. C. Vaughn

DOI: 10.1007/s00709-002-0038-3

Cite this article as:
Vaughn, K. Protoplasma (2003) 220: 189. doi:10.1007/s00709-002-0038-3


 Dodder (Cuscuta pentagona) hyphae are unique amongst the parasitic weeds for their ability to apparently grow through the walls of the host plant. Closer examination reveals, however, that the hyphae do not grow through the host but rather induce the host to form a new cell wall (or extend the existing wall) to coat the growing hypha. This chimeric wall composed of walls from two species is even traversed by plasmodesmata that connect the two cytoplasms. Compositionally, the chimeric wall is quite different from the walls of either the host or in other cells of the dodder plant, on the basis of immunocytochemical labeling. The most striking differences were in the pectins, with much stronger labeling present in the chimeric wall than in either the host or other dodder walls. Interestingly, labeling with monoclonal antibodies specific to arabinan side chains of rhamnogalacturonan I pectin fraction was highly enriched in the chimeric wall, but antibodies to galactan side chains revealed no labeling. Arabinogalactan protein antibodies labeled the plasma membrane and vesicles at the tips of the hyphae and the complementary host wall, although the JIM8-reactive epitope, associated with very lipophilic arabinogalactan proteins, was found only in dodder cells and not the host. Callose was found in the plasmodesmata and along the forming hyphal wall but was found at low levels in the host wall. The low level of host wall labeling with anticallose indicates that a typical woundlike response was not induced by the dodder. When dodder infects leaf lamina, which have more abundant intercellular spaces than petioles or shoots, the hyphae grew both intra- and extracellularly. In the latter condition, a host wall did not ensheath the parasite and there was clear degradation of the host middle lamellae by the growing hyphae, allowing the dodder to pass between cells. These data indicate that the chimeric walls formed from the growth of the host cell wall in concert with the developing hyphae are unique in composition and structure and represent an induction of a wall type in the host that is not noted in surrounding walls.

Keywords: Dodder; Cuscuta pentagona; Hypha; Parasitic weed; Polysaccharide; Immunocytochemistry. 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. C. Vaughn
    • 1
  1. 1.Southern Weed Science Research Unit, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Stoneville, MississippiUS

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