New paper: “Fertilization benefits the facultative parasitic plant Rhamphicarpa fistulosa while gains by the infected host Oryza sativa are marginalized”

Fertilization benefits the facultative parasitic plant Rhamphicarpa fistulosa while gains by the infected host Oryza sativa are marginalized

In this study, a collaboration between Natural Resources Institute & Wageningen University & Research – Centre for Crop Systems Analysis, we demonstrate that the facultative parasitic weed Rhamphicarpa fistulosa benefits from fertiliser application (but only) when it parasitises on a host, both in terms of biomass and in terms of reproductive output (seeds). This contrasts […]

(MINI REVIEW) CRISPR gene editing to improve crop resistance to parasitic plants


Parasitic plants pose a significant threat to global agriculture, causing substantial crop losses and hampering food security. In recent years, CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) gene-editing technology has emerged as a promising tool for developing resistance against various plant pathogens. Its application in combating parasitic plants, however, remains largely unexplored. This review aims […]

Resistance against broomrapes (Orobanche and Phelipanche spp.) in vegetables: a comprehensive view on classical and innovative breeding efforts

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Broomrapes (Orobanche and Phelipanche spp.) are root holoparasites deriving their nourishment from the parasitic interaction they establish with the host plant. Vegetable crops are severely affected worldwide from broomrapes infestations, which are hard-to-manage through the conventional agronomical practices and determines relevant production losses. The identification of resistant varieties represents the ideal solution to face with this noxious threat, […]

Publication: Large-scale interplant exchange of macromolecules between soybean and dodder under nutrient stresses


Dodder, a parasitic plant, obtains nutrients from its host through haustoria. The exchange of macromolecules between dodder and its host in nutrient-deficient environments is not well understood. In this study, it is shown that, when being subjected to nitrogen or phosphorus deficiency, at the transcript level soybean plants responded more strongly than did dodder plants. However, both plants exhibited significant changes […]

New book: “Parasitic Plants in African Agriculture” (CABI) – by L.J. Musselman & J. Rodenburg


This book brings together for the first time in a single volume, the ecology, biology, damage, and control of all groups of African parasitic plants including both the relatively few parasites introduced to the continent as well as those native parasites which have spread from within Africa. This covers the well-known witchweeds and broomrapes but […]

(Review article) Developing for nutrient uptake: Induced organogenesis in parasitic plants and root nodule symbiosis


Plants have evolved various strategies to adapt nutrient limited condition. As a reflection, parasitic plants and legume species produce specialized organs, the haustorium and the nodule, respectively, in order to acquire unique routes for nutrient uptake through intimate interaction with surrounding organisms. Initiation and developmental progression of haustorium and nodule require signal guidance from the […]

New paper: Essential plant nutrients impair post-germination development of Striga in sorghum

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Infestation by the parasitic weed Striga is a major cause of cereal crop production losses on smallholder farms in Africa. Essential plant nutrients play an important indirect role in parasite seed germination, the first prerequisite for successful parasitism. Here, we demonstrate that increasing the nutrient availability for the host plant can also impede Striga development […]

Complete chloroplast genomes of five Cuscuta species and their evolutionary significance in the Cuscuta genus


Background Cuscuta, a parasitic plant species in the Convolvulaceae family, grows in many countries and regions. However, the relationship between some species is still unclear. Therefore, more studies are needed to assess the variation of the chloroplast (cp) genome in Cuscuta species and their relationship with subgenera or sections, thus, providing important information on the […]

Publication: Trans-species microRNA loci in the parasitic plant Cuscuta campestris have a U6-like snRNA promoter

Cuscuta campestris haustorium

Cuscuta campestris produces many unique microRNAs only at the haustorial interface with hosts. Our previously published work showed that these interface-induced microRNAs can target host messenger RNAs (mRNAs). The targeted host mRNAs generally function in immune responses, vascular system functions, or hormone signal transduction. Our overall hypothesis is that the Cuscuta interface-induced microRNAs act in […]

Role of Strigolactones in the Host-Specificity of Broomrapes and Witchweeds

Root parasitic plants of the Orobanchaceae, broomrapes and witchweeds, pose a severe problem to agriculture in Europe, Asia, and especially Africa. These parasites are totally dependent on their host for survival, and therefore their germination is tightly regulated by host presence. Indeed, their seeds remain dormant in the soil until a host root is detected […]