The three-dimensional structure of vascular tissues in Agrobacterium tumefaciens-induced crown galls and in the host stems of Ricinus communis L.

Roni Aloni, Katja S. Pradel, Cornelia I. Ullrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The three-dimensional pattern of phloem and xylem in 10-d-to two-month-old tumors induced by Agrobacterium tumefaciens (C58) and in adjacent Ricinus communis L. stem tissues was studied in thick sections by clearing with lactic acid and by staining with lacmoid. The crown galls contained two types of vascular strands: treelike branched bundles, which developed towards the tumor surface in fast-growing regions, and globular bundles in the slowly developing parts. Both types of vascular bundles contained xylem and phloem and were continuous with the vascular system of the host plant. The tumor bundles were interconnected by a dense net of phloem anastomoses, consisting of sieve tubes but no vessels. These vascular patterns reflect the apparent synthesis sites, concentration gradients and flow pathways of the plant hormones additionally produced in the tumors upon expression of the T-DNA-encoded genes. The A. tumefaciens-induced crown gall affected vascular differentiation in the host stem. In the basipetal direction, the tumor induced more xylem differentiation directly below it, where the crown-gall bundles joined the vascular system of the host. In the centripetal direction, the crown gall caused the development of pathologic xylem characterized by narrow vessels, giant rays and absence of fibers. On the other hand, most probably as a consequence of its gibberellic acid content, the host plant stimulated a local differentiation of regenerative phloem and xylem fibers with unique ramifications, only at the base of the tumor. However, fibers were absent from the main body of the crown gall. The study shows that A. tumefaciens-induced crown galls are characterized by a sophisticated network of vascular tissues in the tumor and are accompanied by a perturbated vessel system in the host. The hormonal mechanisms controlling vascular differentiation in the tumor and neighboring host tissues are discussed. In addition, the “gall constriction hypothesis” is proposed for explaining the mechanism which gives priority in water supply to the growing gall over the host shoot.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-605
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1995


  • Agrobacterium
  • Crown gall
  • Fiber
  • Phloem anastomoses
  • Phloem and xylem differentiation
  • Phytohormones (auxin, cytokinin, ethylene, gibberellin)
  • Ray differentiation


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