Histological and anatomical responses in avocado, Persea americana, induced by the vascular wilt pathogen, Raffaelea lauricola
Raffaelea lauricola causes laurel wilt of avocado, Persea americana. Host x pathogen interactions were examined with light and scanning electron microscopy. The susceptible avocado cultivar 'Simmonds' was inoculated and examined 5 cm above the inoculation site 3, 7, 14, 21, and 42 days after inoculation (dai). No external symptoms were observed at 3 and 7 dai, and there were no anatomical differences when compared with the mock-inoculated plants. By 14 dai, external symptoms were present and dark discoloration had developed in sapwood. Tylose development increased significantly by 14 dai, and was positivity correlated with disease severity (P < 0.05). By 14 dai, gels formed in xylem vessels, fibers, and adjacent parenchyma cells; they were associated with xylem blockage and composed of phenols, pectin, and lipids, as suggested by, respectively, toluidine blue O, ruthenium red, and Sudan III stains. With a chitin-specific stain, fluorescein-conjugated wheat germ agglutinin, infrequent mycelia, and conidia of R. lauricola were visualized within xylem lumena and fibers, regardless of sample date. Understanding how avocado responds to the presence of this pathogen could assist the development of laurel wilt-resistant avocado genotypes and inform efforts to manage this disease with other measures.