Filamentous actin accumulates during plant cell penetration and cell wall plug formation in Phytophthora infestans

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The oomycete Phytophthora infestans is the cause of late blight in potato and tomato. It is a devastating pathogen and there is an urgent need to design alternative strategies to control the disease. To find novel potential drug targets, we used Lifeact-eGFP expressing P. infestans for high resolution live cell imaging of the actin cytoskeleton in various developmental stages. Previously, we identified actin plaques as structures that are unique for oomycetes. Here we describe two additional novel actin configurations; one associated with plug deposition in germ tubes and the other with appressoria, infection structures formed prior to host cell penetration. Plugs are composed of cell wall material that is deposited in hyphae emerging from cysts to seal off the cytoplasm-depleted base after cytoplasm retraction towards the growing tip. Preceding plug formation there was a typical local actin accumulation and during plug deposition actin remained associated with the leading edge. In appressoria, formed either on an artificial surface or upon contact with plant cells, we observed a novel aster-like actin configuration that was localized at the contact point with the surface. Our findings strongly suggest a role for the actin cytoskeleton in plug formation and plant cell penetration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)909-920
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Actin cytoskeleton
  • Appressorium
  • Late blight
  • Lifeact
  • Oomycete
  • Plant pathogen


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