Ultrastructural and cytochemical studies of host and pathogens in some fungal wilt diseases: retro- and introspection towards a better understanding of DED

G. B. Ouellette, D. Rioux, M. Simard, M. Cherif


This report presents a survey of previous and more recent ultrastructural and cytochemical investigations of disease development in elm, caused by Ophiostoma novo-ulmi, with results of some comparative studies of other wilt diseases caused by f.spp., of Fusarium oxysporum and of Verticillium sp. For cytochemical studies, probes complexed to colloidal gold to detect cellulose, pectin, chitin, and DNA were used. Thus, the formation of tyloses, pit membrane alterations, and the disease effect on parenchyma cells in mature as well as in young tissue were characterized. Vessel lumina in these plants, in diverse situations, contained heterogeneous matter, among which occurred masses of opaque matter and in certain instances pectin fibrils secreted by parenchyma cells and tyloses. Numerous globoid, opaque bodies of regular sizes, which have been mostly overlooked previously, abounded in vessel elements of U. americana and U. glabra, including trees injected with glucose solutions prior to inoculation. Coarser fibrillar material was also noted in vessel lumina, but mostly shortly after inoculation. Other peculiar forms of O. novo-ulmi are also described. The possible role of the components under study is discussed, and a model for DED is proposed in which hindrance to vessel invasion, including downward spread of the pathogen, and reactions of parenchyma cells are complementary and considered to be conducive to defence mechanisms, including compartmentalization of the invaded xylem.


Ophiostoma novo-ulmi; Ulmus; cytology

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