Ultrastructure of infection-thread development during the infection of soybean by Rhizobium japonicum

Planta. 1985 Mar;163(3):328-49. doi: 10.1007/BF00395142.


The location and topography of infection sites in soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) root hairs spot-inoculated with Rhizobium japonicum have been studied at the ultrastructural level. Infections commonly developed at sites created when the induced deformation of an emerging root hair caused a portion of the root-hair cell wall to press against an adjacent epidermal cell, entrapping rhizobia within the pocket between the two host cells. Infections were initiated by bacteria which became embedded in the mucigel in the enclosed groove. Infection-thread formation in soybean appears to involve degradation of mucigel material and localized disruption of the outer layer of the folded hair cell wall by one or more entrapped rhizobia. Rhizobia at the site of penetration are separated from the host cytoplasm by the host plasmalemma and by a layer of wall material that appears similar or identical to the normal inner layer of the hair cell wall. Proliferation of the bacteria results in an irregular, wall-bound sac near the site of penetration. Tubular infection threads, bounded by wall material of the same appearance as that surrounding the sac, emerge from the sac to carry rhizobia roughly single-file into the hair cell. Growing regions of the infection sac or thread are surrounded by host cytoplasm with high concentrations of organelles associated with synthesis and deposition of membrane and cell-wall material. The threads follow a highly irregular path toward the base of the hair cell. Threads commonly run along the base of the hair cell for some distance, and may branch and penetrate into subjacent cortical cells at several points in a manner analagous to the initial penetration of the root hair.