Ultrastructural analysis of the behavior of the dimorphic fungus Microbotryum violaceum in fungus-induced anthers of female Silene latifolia flowers

Protoplasma. 2005 Dec;226(3-4):207-16. doi: 10.1007/s00709-005-0113-7. Epub 2005 Dec 12.


The development of male organs is induced in female flowers of the dioecious plant Silene latifolia by infection with the fungus Microbotryum violaceum. Stamens in a healthy female flower grow only to stage 6, whereas those in an infected female flower develop to the mature stage (stage 12), at which the stamens are filled with fungal teliospores instead of pollen grains. To investigate these host-parasite interactions, young floral buds and fungus-induced anthers of infected female flowers were examined by electron microscopy following fixation by a high-pressure freezing method. Using this approach, we found that parasitic hyphae of this fungus contain several extracellular vesicles and have a consistent appearance up to stage 8. At that stage, parasitic hyphae are observed adjacent to dying sporogenous cells in the infected female anther. At stage 9, an increased number of dead and dying sporogenous cells is observed, among which the sporogenous hyphae of the fungus develop and form initial teliospores. Several types of electron-dense material are present in proximity to some fungi at this stage. The initial teliospores contain two types of vacuoles, and the fungus cell wall contains abundant carbohydrate, as revealed by silver protein staining. The sporogenous cell is probably sensitive to infection by the fungus, resulting in disruption. In addition, the fungus accelerates cell death in the anther and utilizes constituents of the dead host cell to form the mature teliospore.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Basidiomycota / physiology*
  • Basidiomycota / ultrastructure
  • Flowers / growth & development
  • Flowers / microbiology*
  • Flowers / ultrastructure
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Silene / microbiology*
  • Silene / ultrastructure