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A combined cryo-scanning electron microscopy/cryoplaning approach to study the infection of Meloidogyne incognita eggs by Pochonia chlamydosporia

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The fungus Pochonia chlamydosporia is a saprophytic soil-dwelling fungus and is also a parasite of the eggs of the root-knot plant-parasitic nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.). Studies on its molecular characterisation, diversity, tritrophic interactions and ecology have been carried out. However, to elucidate the role in soil and rhizosphere ecology of this and other nematophagous fungi used in biological control, and to enhance their exploitation, it is necessary to improve the understanding of the biology and fungus-nematode infection process using different approaches, including microscopy. Low-temperature Scanning Electron Microscopy (cryo-SEM) techniques allow the examination of frozen, fully hydrated samples that can reveal important ultrastructural features occurring through fungus-nematode interactions. A method that combined cryo-SEM with cryoplaning was developed to examine samples of eggs, gelatinous matrix and females of Meloidogyne incognita colonised by P. chlamydosporia. The fungal samples were produced in potato dextrose agar to which different nematode stages were added and processed for cryo-SEM and cryoplaning within a period of 0-72 h post inoculation. The method was found to be rapid and economical, provided clear and detailed external images of the infection process and allowed viewing of sections through structures with minimal processing in comparison to other cryo-SEM techniques and it could be adapted to study other fungus-nematode interactions.

Affiliations: 1: 1Department of AgroEcology, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Herts, AL5 2JQ, UK; 2: 2Department of Plant Biology and Crop Science, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Herts, AL5 2JQ, UK; 3: 3School of Life and Medical Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield, Herts, AL10 9AB, UK


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