The anatomy of Santalum album (Sandalwood) haustoria

K.U. Tennakoon, D.D. Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Structural attributes of Santalum album L. (Sandalwood) haustoria have been long overlooked in the literature. This is surprising since successful haustorial formation is key to the survival of individuals of this ecologically and economically important plant. We investigated the morphology of haustoria formed by S. album attached to one of its principal hosts Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsley) A. Gray. The bell-shaped mature haustoria were composed of a peripheral hyaline body and a centrally located penetration peg. The parasite penetration peg can penetrate the host by means of direct pressure and the secretion of cell-wall-degrading enzymes when forming a successful graft union. The latter mechanism is supported by this study as we observed no evidence of collapsed host cells as the result of parasite applied pressure. Upon reaching the xylem tissue of the host root, the penetration peg formed a thin ellipsoidal disc and the host-parasite interface was almost entirely composed of parenchymatous tissue. Luminal continuities were absent between the xylem conducting tissues of the partners, thus suggesting mass flow of solutes is unlikely to occur in this association. High densities of contact parenchyma were found at the host-parasite interface; thus it is probable that these are the principal structures formed by the parasite that facilitate the acquisition of host-derived xylem resources. This study therefore concludes that haustorial anatomy of S. album supports cross membrane (potentially selective) uptake of host-derived solutes as opposed to mass flow via vascular continuity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1608-1616
Number of pages9
JournalCanadian Journal of Botany
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2006


  • Haustoria
  • Light mircroscopy
  • Root hemiparasite
  • Santalum album


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