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From Haustorium 85: Parasitic weeds threaten tomato plants on Californian farms

At first glance, Orobanche ramosa looks like an interesting blossoming plant, one that could add a unique flair to flower arrangements. But it’s a parasitic weed that attaches to roots, sucks out nutrients and is threatening California’s lucrative $1.5 billion processing tomato industry. Its resurgence is concern for state regulators and industry, which is helping fund multidisciplinary research at the UC Davis, on ways to detect, manage and fight the weed. Across three colleges at UC Davis, researchers are working on ways to detect the pest, manage it in the field throughout its life cycle and develop long-term solutions to minimize the threat to California agriculture. The work is happening in labs and the field, using drones, human spotters and new techniques to sniff out volatile organic chemicals that are emitted when the weed is present. They are also testing ways to sanitize farm equipment to reduce the risk of spreading seeds from contaminated fields to clean ones. And they are testing dozens of other crops to see if they are susceptible or could be used as false hosts to kill off the Orobanche seeds in the soil.

.For further reading see Haustorium 85