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Plant Physiol. 1998 Mar;116(3):871-7.

Rearrangement of actin microfilaments in plant root hairs responding to rhizobium etli nodulation signals


The response of the actin cytoskeleton to nodulation (Nod) factors secreted by Rhizobium etli has been studied in living root hairs of bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) that were microinjected with fluorescein isothiocyanate-phalloidin. In untreated control cells or cells treated with the inactive chitin oligomer, the actin cytoskeleton was organized into long bundles that were oriented parallel to the long axis of the root hair and extended into the apical zone. Upon exposure to R. etli Nod factors, the filamentous actin became fragmented, as indicated by the appearance of prominent masses of diffuse fluorescence in the apical region of the root hair. These changes in the actin cytoskeleton were rapid, observed as soon as 5 to 10 min after application of the Nod factors. It was interesting that the filamentous actin partially recovered in the continued presence of the Nod factor: by 1 h, long bundles had reformed. However, these cells still contained a significant amount of diffuse fluorescence in the apical zone and in the nuclear area, presumably indicating the presence of short actin filaments. These results indicate that Nod factors alter the organization of actin microfilaments in root hair cells, and this could be a prelude for the formation of infection threads.

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