Syncytia formed by adult female Heterodera schachtii in Arabidopsis thaliana roots have a distinct cell wall molecular architecture


Author for correspondence:
P. E. Urwin
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  • Plant-parasitic cyst nematodes form a feeding site, termed a syncytium, through which the nematode obtains nutrients from the host plant to support nematode development. The structural features of cell walls of syncytial cells have yet to be elucidated.
  • Monoclonal antibodies to defined glycans and a cellulose-binding module were used to determine the cell wall architectures of syncytial and surrounding cells in the roots of Arabidopsis thaliana infected with the cyst nematode Heterodera schachtii.
  • Fluorescence imaging revealed that the cell walls of syncytia contain cellulose and the hemicelluloses xyloglucan and heteromannan. Heavily methyl-esterified pectic homogalacturonan and arabinan are abundant in syncytial cell walls; galactan could not be detected. This is suggestive of highly flexible syncytial cell walls.
  • This work provides important information on the structural architecture of the cell walls of this novel cell type and reveals factors that enable the feeding site to perform its functional requirements to support nematode development.