Ultrastructural studies of the infection of susceptible and resistant cultivars of Sorghum bicolor by Colletotrichum sublineolum were conducted. Initial penetration events were the same on both susceptible and resistant cultivars. Germ tubes originating from germinated conidia formed globose, melanized appressoria, that penetrated host epidermal cells directly. Appressoria did not produce appressorial cones, but each penetration pore was surrounded by an annular wall thickening. Inward deformation of the cuticle and localized changes in staining properties of the host cell wall around the infection peg suggests that penetration involves both mechanical force and enzymic dissolution. In compatible interactions, penetration was followed by formation of biotrophic globular infection vesicles in epidermal cells. Filamentous primary hyphae developed from the vesicles and went on to colonize many other host cells as an intracellular mycelium. Host cells initially survived penetration. The host plasma membrane invaginated around infection vesicles and primary hyphae and was appressed tightly to the fungal cell wall, with no detectable matrix layer at the interface. Necrotrophic secondary hyphae appeared after 66 h and ramified through host tissue both intercellularly and intracellularly, forming hypostromatic acervuli by 114 h. Production of secondary hyphae was accompanied by the appearance of electron-opaque material within infected cells. This was thought to represent the host phytoalexin response. In incompatible interactions, infection vesicles and primary hyphae were formed in epidermal cells by 42 h. However, they were encrusted with electron-opaque material and appeared dead. These observations are discussed in relation to the infection processes of other Colletotrichum spp. and the host phytoalexin response.
Phytopathology (2001) 91 (2) 149-158