The development of giant cells induced by the nematode Meloidogyne in tomato roots has been followed under controlled growth conditions and the ultrastructure and histochemistry of these structures have been examined. Entry of the nematode larvae into the roots took place within 24 hours; giant cell formation started on the 4th day and involved breakdown of the cell walls accompanied by thickening of a surrounding giant cell wall and an increase in density and area of the cytoplasm. The nuclei increased in number by simultaneous mitosis throughout a single giant cell. The peak of cytoplasmic density was reached after moulting and during egg production. The rate of protein synthesis in the giant cell is correlated with the rate of growth of the nematode. The giant cell wall is a thick, irregularly surfaced structure which contains all the normal polysaccharide components of a cell wall. The cytoplasm is rich in protein and RNA and contains mitochondria, proplastids, Golgi bodies, and a dense endoplasmic reticulum. The nuclei are large and irregular in shape and contain large nucleoli and a number of Feulgen-positive bodies scattered irregularly along the nuclear envelope. The nucleolus contains RNA and fat as well as Feulgen-positive granules which are revealed after treatment with ribonuclease. It consists of a dense outer cortex surrounding a much lighter central core and is connected at times with the Feulgen-positive bodies in the nucleus. Speculation is provided on the role of these bodies in cytoplasmic protein synthesis.

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