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Plant Signal Behav. 2013 May;8(5):e24037. doi: 10.4161/psb.24037. Epub 2013 Feb 25.

Cuscuta europaea plastid apparatus in various developmental stages: localization of THF1 protein.

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Department of Plant Physiology; Faculty of Natural Sciences; Comenius University in Bratislava; Bratislava, Slovak Republic.


It was generally accepted that Cuscuta europaea is mostly adapted to a parasitic lifestyle with no detectable levels of chlorophylls. We found out relatively high level of chlorophylls (Chls a+b) in young developmental stages of dodder. Significant lowering of Chls (a+b) content and increase of carotenoid concentration was typical only for ontogenetically more developed stages. Lower content of photosynthesis-related proteins involved in Chls biosynthesis and in photosystem formation as well as low photochemical activity of PSII indicate that photosynthesis is not the main activity of C. europaea plastids. Previously, it has been shown in other species that the Thylakoid Formation Protein 1 (THF1) is involved in thylakoid membrane differentiation, plant-fungal and plant-bacterial interactions and in sugar signaling with its preferential localization to plastids. Our immunofluorescence localization studies and analyses of haustorial plasma membrane fractions revealed that in addition to plastids, the THF1 protein localizes also to the plasma membrane and plasmodesmata in developing C. europaea haustorium, most abundantly in the digitate cells of the endophyte primordium. These results are supported by western blot analysis, documenting the highest levels of the THF1 protein in "get together" tissues of dodder and tobacco. Based on the fact that photosynthesis is not a typical process in the C. europaea haustorium and on the extra-plastidial localization pattern of the THF1, our data support rather other functions of this protein in the complex relationship between C. europaea and its host.


Cuscuta europaea; confocal microscopy; haustorium; plasma membrane fraction; plasmodesmata; plastid

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