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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1993 Aug;59(8):2578-88.

A Cytochemical Study of Extracellular Sheaths Associated with Rigidoporus lignosus during Wood Decay.

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Laboratoire de Phytopathologie, Institut Français de Recherche Scientifique pour le Développement en Coopération, B.P. 5045, 34000 Montpellier, France, and Forestry Canada, Quebec Region, Sainte-Foy, Quebec GIV 4C7, Canada.


An ultrastructural and cytochemical investigation of the development of Rigidoporus lignosus, a white-rot fungus inoculated into wood blocks, was carried out to gain better insight into the structure and role of the extracellular sheaths produced by this fungus during wood degradation. Fungal sheaths had a dense or loose fibrillar appearance and were differentiated from the fungal cell wall early after wood inoculation. Close association between extracellular fibrils and wood cell walls was observed at both early and advanced stages of wood alteration. Fungal sheaths were often seen deep in host cell walls, sometimes enclosing residual wood fragments. Specific gold probes were used to investigate the chemical nature of R. lignosus sheaths. While labeling of chitin, pectin, beta-1,4- and beta-1,3-glucans, beta-glucosides, galactosamine, mannose, sialic acid, RNA, fucose, and fimbrial proteins over fungal sheaths did not succeed, galactose residues and laccase (a fungal phenoloxidase) were found to be present. The positive reaction of sheaths with the PATAg test indicates that polysaccharides such as beta-1,6-glucans are important components. Our data suggest that extracellular sheaths produced by R. lignosus during host cell colonization play an important role in wood degradation. Transportation of lignin-degrading enzymes by extracellular fibrils indicates that alteration of plant polymers may occur within fungal sheaths. It is also proposed that R. lignosus sheaths may be involved in recognition mechanisms in fungal cell-wood surface interactions.

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