Characterization of Lilium longiflorum cv. ‘Nellie White’ Infection with Root-lesion Nematode Pratylenchus penetrans by Bright-field and Transmission Electron Microscopy

Paulo Vieira, Joseph Mowery, James Kilcrease, Jonathan D. Eisenback, Kathryn Kamo


Lilium longiflorum cv. Nellie White, commonly known as Easter lily, is an important floral crop with an annual wholesale value of over $26 million in the United States. The root-lesion nematode, Pratylenchus penetrans, is a major pest of lily due to the significant root damage it causes. In this study, we investigated the cytological aspects of this plant–nematode interaction using bright-field and transmission electron microscopy. We took advantage of an in vitro culture method to multiply lilies and follow the nematode infection over time. Phenotypic reactions of roots inoculated with P. penetrans were evaluated from 0 to 60 d after nematode infection. Symptom development progressed from initial randomly distributed discrete necrotic areas to advanced necrosis along entire roots of each inoculated plant. A major feature characterizing this susceptible host response to nematode infection was the formation of necrosis, browning, and tissue death involving both root epidermis and cortical cells. Degradation of consecutive cell walls resulted in loss of cell pressure, lack of cytoplasmic integrity, followed by cell death along the intracellular path of the nematode’s migration. Pratylenchus penetrans was never seen in the vascular cylinder as the layer of collapsed endodermal cells presumably blocked the progression of nematodes into this area of the roots. This study presents the first detailed cytological characterization of P. penetrans infection of Easter lily plants.

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