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X-Ray Microanalysis of Feeding Syncytia Induced in Plants By Cyst Nematodes

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For more content, see Nematology.

The elements present in cyst nematode-induced syncytia in plant roots were investigated by scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis of specimens frozen in nitrogen slush. The techniques applied can examine the response of lighter, more mobile elements, in sites of in vivo activity, and at greater resolution (to sub-cellular level) than previously applied methods. Marked differences were recorded in elemental composition between cyst nematodes, their feeding cells and the unmodified cells of the host plant. In white clover, Heterodera trifolii-induced syncytia had more Mg and P than morphologically unmodified cells in infected and healthy roots. In older syncytia, associated with egg-producing females, high concentrations of Mg and P were localised in bodies assuming a globoid shape in the fractured surfaces. Surrounding cytoplasm had only low levels of these two elements. Similar changes were observed in syncytia induced by H. trifolii in roots of red clover. In syncytia induced by H. avenae in wheat, Mg was unchanged, but P and S concentrations were greater than in unmodified neighbouring root cells. Syncytia induced in tomato by Globodera rostochiensis had less Na and S than other plant cells. X-ray spectra from elements present in nematodes were distinct from those of their feeding cells; in particular, there was more Ca, but less K, in H. trifolii and H. avenae. The elemental composition of the cuticular layers of an H. avenae female showed marked differences in several elements.

Affiliations: 1: AFRC Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, WPBS, Plas Gogerddan, Aberystywth, Dyfed SY23 3EB, U.K


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