Development of Cuscuta species on a partially incompatible host: induction of xylem transfer cells
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The growth of dodders, Cuscuta reflexa and Cuscuta japonica, on the partially incompatible host poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is studied. Poinsettia responds by bark growths to the formation of the dodder haustoria and prevents dodder from obtaining normal growth. The growth instead becomes extremely branched, coral-like, and dodder lacks the ability to form haustoria. After a period of coral-like growth, long shoots sprout, resembling the normal growth. These long shoots mark an ending phase for dodder, which dies shortly after without having flowered. During the coral-like growth phase, dodder develops transfer cells in the parenchyma cells bordering the vessels of the xylem in the shoot. The transfer cells have not been observed when dodder is grown on the compatible host Pelargonium zonale. A coral-like growth phase has also been observed at the establishing phase when dodder is grown in vitro on agar; later a more normal growth form takes over. In this coral phase, xylem transfer cells are also developed. The fluorochromes carboxyfluorescein and Texas Red were loaded into the host in the phloem and xylem, respectively, and detection of these fluorochromes in the dodder stem indicated that a functional haustorial contact developed for both vascular systems. The results show that Cuscuta spp. have the genetic ability to develop xylem transfer cells and use this in response to developmental stress.
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