Visualization and characterization of the extracellular matrix of Bipolaris sorokiniana.
Extracellular matrix (ECM) surrounding conidia and germlings of B. sorokiniana [Cochliobolus sativus] was studied using light microscopy (LM), scanning (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Conidial ECM surrounding dry-inoculated, ungerminated conidia was fluid-like and observed only using a cryo-preparation technique, suggesting that the material was water soluble. ECM enveloping germlings appeared fibrillar in LM, TEM and SEM but amorphous in cryo-SEM, indicating that the structure of the ECM is dependent on the water content of the matrix. Fibrillar ECM formed thread-like structures that extended over long distances on the substrate or towards neighbouring conidia and hyphae. TEM of germlings negatively stained with uranyl acetate revealed the presence of fungal fimbriae. The strong resemblance between the extending organization of fibrillar thread-like ECM structures and fimbriae suggested that fimbriae constitute a basic structural component of the ECM and serve as the aggregation centre for the other ECM components. Histochemical labelling revealed significant differences between ECM surrounding the fungus at different morphological stages. The germ tube ECM was labelled for both proteins and polysaccharides whereas germling ECM consisted of two layers: an inner rich in proteins and an outer composed mainly of polysaccharides. Furthermore, the newly released ECM localized on germ tubes and hyphal tips showed affinity for microspheres carrying any type of surface properties while hyphal ECM had affinity only for negatively charged microspheres. This together suggests that ECM after its release is subjected to structural changes.