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Plant Physiol. 2001 Sep;127(1):272-82.

Transcriptional responses in the hemiparasitic plant Triphysaria versicolor to host plant signals.

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Department of Vegetable Crops, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.


Parasitic plants in the Scrophulariaceae use chemicals released by host plant roots to signal developmental processes critical for heterotrophy. Haustoria, parasitic plant structures that attach to and invade host roots, develop on roots of the hemiparasitic plant Triphysaria versicolor within a few hours of exposure to either maize (Zea mays) root exudate or purified haustoria-inducing factors. We prepared a normalized, subtractive cDNA library enriched for transcripts differentially abundant in T. versicolor root tips treated with the allelopathic quinone 2,6-dimethoxybenzoquinone (DMBQ). Northern analyses estimated that about 10% of the cDNAs represent transcripts strongly up-regulated in roots exposed to DMBQ. Northern and reverse northern analyses demonstrated that most DMBQ-responsive messages were similarly up-regulated in T. versicolor roots exposed to maize root exudates. From the cDNA sequences we assembled a unigene set of 137 distinct transcripts and assigned functions by homology comparisons. Many of the proteins encoded by the transcripts are predicted to function in quinone detoxification, whereas others are more likely associated with haustorium development. The identification of genes transcriptionally regulated by haustorium-inducing factors provides a framework for dissecting genetic pathways recruited by parasitic plants during the transition to heterotrophic growth.

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