Live cell imaging of the cytoskeleton in Phytophthora pathogens reveals unique actin and microtubule configurations

K. Kots, T. Ketelaar, D.J. van den Hoogen, H.J.G. Meijer, F. Govers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstractAcademic


The cytoskeleton is a dynamic but well organized intracellular network that is essential for proper functioning of eukaryotic cells. We study the cytoskeleton in Phytophthora species, oomycete plant pathogens that cause devastating diseases worldwide. We use Lifeact-eGFP expressing Phytophthora infestans for live cell imaging of the actin cytoskeleton in various developmental stages. Previously we identified actin plaques as highly immobile, long-lived structures that are unique for oomycetes. Here we present two other unique 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 is a typical local actin accumulation and during plug deposition actin remains associated with the leading edge. In appressoria we observed an aster-like actin configuration that is localized at the contact point with the underlying surface. These actin configurations strongly suggest a role for the actin cytoskeleton in plug formation and plant cell penetration. For live cell imaging of the microtubule cytoskeleton we have generated a Phytophthora palmivora transformant expressing GFP-α-tubulin which allows us to visualize the dynamics of microtubules in oomycetes for the first time. Diseases caused by oomycetes are difficult to control and this emphases the need to find novel potential drug targets specific for oomycetes. Although actin and tubulin are conserved proteins, many structural and regulatory proteins interacting with the cytoskeleton are unique for specific phylogenetic groups. The data presented here are our first attempts to better understand the structure and functioning of the Phytophthora cytoskeleton. The long term goal is to uncover oomycete or Phytophthora specific features that might be instrumental for drug design.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAbstract Book 29th Fungal Genetics Conference Asilomar 17, Pacific Grove, CA, USA 14-19 March 2017
PublisherGenetics Society of America
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2017
Event29th Fungal Genetics Conference - Asilomar Conference Center, Pacific Grove, CA, United States
Duration: 14 Mar 201719 Mar 2017


Conference29th Fungal Genetics Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPacific Grove, CA
Internet address


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