Root infection in susceptible host species is initiated predominantly in the zone of elongation, whereas the remainder of the root is resistant. Nectria haematococca infection of pea (Pisum sativum) was used as a model to explore possible mechanisms influencing the localization of root infection. The failure to infect the root tip was not due to a failure to induce spore germination at this site, suppression of pathogenicity genes in the fungus, or increased expression of plant defense genes. Instead, exudates from the root tip induce rapid spore germination by a pathway that is independent of nutrient-induced germination. Subsequently, a factor produced during fungal infection and death of border cells at the root apex appears to selectively suppress fungal growth and prevent sporulation. Host-specific mantle formation in response to border cells appears to represent a previously unrecognized form of host-parasite relationship common to diverse species. The dynamics of signal exchange leading to mantle development may play a key role in fostering plant health, by protecting root meristems from pathogenic invasion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science