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Plant Physiol Biochem. 2006 May-Jun;44(5-6):430-3. Epub 2006 Jun 15.

Females and males of root-parasitic cyst nematodes induce different symplasmic connections between their syncytial feeding cells and the phloem in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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Department of Applied Plant Sciences and Plant Biotechnology, Institute of Plant Protection, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences-Vienna, Peter-Jordan Strasse 82, 1190 Vienna, Austria.


Root syncytia induced by the beet cyst nematode Heterodera schachtii were thought to be symplasmically isolated. A recent study with mobile and immobile GFP constructs expressed in transgenic Arabidopsis plants under the control of pAtSUC2 showed that only mobile GFP could be detected in syncytia and suggested the existence of plasmodesmata between syncytia and the phloem. In the present study the existence of plasmodesmata between syncytia and the phloem is proven by grafting experiments. This technique rules out the possibility that GFP accumulation in syncytia is due to GFP expression in syncytia. Mobile GFP could be followed from transgenic scions carrying a pAtSUC2-gfp fusion construct via wild-type rootstocks into nematode-induced syncytia. While GFP could be detected in all syncytia associated to female nematodes, it was never observed in syncytia of male juveniles. As no GFP-mRNA could be detected in the rootstock we postulate that GFP as protein entered syncytia of females via plasmodesmata, while the protein was excluded from syncytia of male juveniles by plasmodesmata with a lower size exclusion limit.

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