Morphological development of anthers induced by the dimorphic smut fungus Microbotryum violaceum in female flowers of the dioecious plant Silene latifolia

Planta. 2003 Dec;218(2):240-8. doi: 10.1007/s00425-003-1110-8. Epub 2003 Oct 10.


When inoculated with the dimorphic smut fungus Microbotryum violaceum (Pers.) G. Deml and Oberwinkler, the female flower of the dioecious plant Silene latifolia (Miller) E.H.L. Krause develops anther-like structures filled with spores instead of pollen grains. Using natural scanning electron microscopy, Nomarski interference microscopy, and fluorescence microscopy, we investigated the morphological modifications of the host plant resulting from this parasitism and the localization of smut hyphae in the flower bud. Flowers of infected plants lasted significantly longer than those of healthy plants, probably because the infection strengthened floral organs, such as the flower base and the anther filaments. Smut hyphae were observed throughout all organs of the young flower buds of infected plants, including sepals, petals, stamens, and pistil primordia. In healthy female flowers, anthers initiated sporogenous cell formation, but lacked parietal cell layers. By contrast, the parietal cell layers of infected female flowers differentiated into tapetal tissue, middle cell layers, and endothecial layers, as in the anthers of healthy male flowers. Smut spore formation in the infected anther was initiated in intercellular regions between the sporogenous cells, resulting in degeneration of premature sporogenous cells, tapetal tissue, and middle cell layers. The development of the endothecial layers and epidermis in the infected anther were morphologically normal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Basidiomycota / growth & development*
  • Flowers / growth & development*
  • Flowers / microbiology
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology*
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Silene / growth & development*
  • Silene / microbiology
  • Time Factors