The parasitic plant genome project: New tools for understanding the biology of Orobanche and Striga

James H. Westwood, Claude W. Depamphilis, Malay Das, Mnica Fernndez-Aparicio, Loren A. Honaas, Michael P. Timko, Eric K. Wafula, Norman J. Wickett, John I. Yoder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


The Parasitic Plant Genome Project has sequenced transcripts from three parasitic species and a nonparasitic relative in the Orobanchaceae with the goal of understanding genetic changes associated with parasitism. The species studied span the trophic spectrum from free-living nonparasite to obligate holoparasite. Parasitic species used were Triphysaria versicolor, a photosynthetically competent species that opportunistically parasitizes roots of neighboring plants; Striga hermonthica, a hemiparasite that has an obligate need for a host; and Orobanche aegyptiaca, a holoparasite with absolute nutritional dependence on a host. Lindenbergia philippensis represents the closest nonparasite sister group to the parasitic Orobanchaceae and was included for comparative purposes. Tissues for transcriptome sequencing from each plant were gathered to identify expressed genes for key life stages from seed conditioning through anthesis. Two of the species studied, S. hermonthica and O. aegyptiaca, are economically important weeds and the data generated by this project are expected to aid in research and control of these species and their relatives. The sequences generated through this project will provide an abundant resource of molecular markers for understanding population dynamics, as well as provide insight into the biology of parasitism and advance progress toward understanding parasite virulence and host resistance mechanisms. In addition, the sequences provide important information on target sites for herbicide action or other novel control strategies such as trans-specific gene silencing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-306
Number of pages12
JournalWeed Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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