Significance of electron dense microbodies in trap cells of the nematophagous fungus Arthrobotrys oligospora

Marten Veenhuis, Cobie van Wijk, Urs Wyss, Birgit Nordbring-Hertz, Willem Harder

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We have studied the fate of electron dense microbodies in nematode-trapping organs (traps) of the fungus A. oligospora during the initial hours following nematode capture. The interaction studies were performed with isolated traps which had captured a nematode under conditions where the fungal cells had no access to external energy sources. Video enhanced contrast microscopy showed that under these conditions the number of dense bodies present in the trap cell that formed the penetration tube, rapidly decreased. During subsequent penetration and development of the infection bulb this decrease continued while at this time common cell organelles such as mitochondria and vacuoles were formed. This was confirmed by electron microscopy which also revealed that the dense bodies were degraded by means of an autophagic process. The organelles were degraded individually and finally turned into compartments which, based on ultrastructural criteria, were considered vacuoles. Fusion of such vacuoles into larger organelles frequently occurred. The degradation process was initiated early in the interaction since initial stages were already evident within 15 min after capture. Generally it took 1-2 h before the infection bulb had fully developed and trophic hyphae formation started. During this time the original trap cell, characterized by numerous dense bodies, was transformed into an active vegetative hyphal cell containing typical cell organelles such as nuclei, mitochondria, a strongly proliferated endoplasmic reticulum, vacuoles and "normal" microbodies but lacked dense bodies. This disappearance of dense bodies was confined to the cell that penetrated the nematode and - less frequently - its two neighbouring cells in the hyphal loop. In the other cells, constituting the trap, the dense bodies remained unaffected. As will be discussed, the present results support our current view that traps of A. oligospora contribute to the survival of the organism in its natural environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-261
Number of pages11
JournalAntonie van Leeuwenhoek: Journal of Microbiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct-1989


  • ultrastructure
  • Arthrobotrys oligospora
  • nematophagous fungus
  • electron dense microbodies

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