The process of infection of lupin nodule cells by rhizobia was examined using thin-section and freeze-fracture electron-microscopic techniques to characterize the properties of different membranes and to establish relationships between them. The membranes of the Golgi bodies and the endoplasmic reticulum stained with zinc iodide-osmium tetroxide but not with phosphotungstic acid or silver. By contrast the infection thread membranes, peribacteroid membranes, plasma membranes and membranes of cytoplasmic vesicles did not stain with zinc iodide-osmium tetroxide but stained with phosphotungstic acid and silver. The peribacteroid membranes and plasma membranes are, however, different from each other since the particle density on the E face of freeze-fracture replicas of plasma membranes was twice that on the E face of the peribacteroid membranes. An examination of the tips of the infection threads in the cytoplasm of the plant cells, showed that the rhizobia bud off from the infection threads enclosed in the infection thread membranes. The rhizobia continue to divide still surrounded by membranes of plant origin, namely the peribacteroid membranes. Cytoplasmic vesicles are observed in both thin-section and freeze-fracture preparations of nodule tissue closely associated with, and apparently produced by, Golgi bodies. Formation of the walls and membranes of the infection threads and of the peribacteroid membranes involves fusion of the cytoplasmic vesicles with these membranes. It is proposed that the process of infection of plant cells in lupin nodules involves a change in the function of the Golgi body system for the biogenesis of plant cell walls and plasma membranes to include the synthesis of the walls and membranes of the infection threads and also the peribacteroid membranes.

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