Specific phases of root hair attachment in the Rhizobium trifolii-clover symbiosis.

Academic Article


  • The time course and orientation of attachment of Rhizobium trifolii 0403 to white clover root hairs was examined in slide cultures by light and electron microscopy. Inocula were grown for 5 days on defined BIII agar medium and represented the large subpopulation of fully encapsulated single cells which uniformly bind the clover lectin trifoliin A. When 10(7) cells or more were added per seedling, bacteria attached within minutes, forming randomly oriented clumps at the root hair tips. Several hours later, single cells attached polarly to the sides of the root hair. This sequence of attachment to clover root hairs was selective for R. trifolii at inoculum sizes of 10(7) to 4 X 10(8) per seedling, specifically inhibited if 2-deoxy-D-glucose, a hapten for trifoliin A, was present in the inoculum, and not observed when 4 X 10(8) cells were added to alfalfa seedling roots or to large clover root cell wall fragments which lacked trifoliin A but still had trifoliin A receptors. Once attached, R. trifolii 0403 became progressively less detachable with 2-deoxy-D-glucose. At smaller inoculum sizes (10(5) to 10(6) cells per seedling), there was no immediate clumping of R. trifolii at clover root hair tips, although polar binding of bacteria along the root hair surface was observed after 4 h. The interface between polarly attached bacteria and the root hair cell wall was shown to contain trifoliin A by immunofluorescence microscopy. Also, this interface was shown by transmission electron microscopy to contain electron-dense granules of host origin. Scanning electron microscopy revealed an accumulation of extracellular microfibrils associated with the lateral and polar surfaces of the attached bacteria, detectable after 12 h of incubation with seedling roots. At this same time, there was a significant reduction in the effectiveness of 2-deoxy-D-glucose in dislodging bacteria already attached to root hairs and an increase in firm attachment of bacteria to the root hair surface, which withstood the hydrodynamic shear forces of high-speed vortexing. These results are interpreted as a sequence of phases in attachment, beginning with specific reversible interactions between bacterial and plant surfaces (phase I attachment), followed by production of extracellular microfibrils which firmly anchor the bacterium to the root hair (phase 2 adhesion). Thus, attachment of R. trifolii to clover root hairs is a specific process requiring more than just the inherent adhesiveness of the bacteria to the plant cell wall.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
  • Authors

  • Dazzo, FB
  • Truchet, GL
  • Sherwood, JE
  • Hrabak, Estelle
  • Abe, M
  • Pankratz, SH
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • December 1984
  • Keywords

  • Microscopy, Phase-Contrast
  • Plants
  • Rhizobium
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Start Page

  • 1140
  • End Page

  • 1150
  • Volume

  • 48
  • Issue

  • 6