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New Phytol. 2006;169(1):199-208.

A novel form of resistance in rice to the angiosperm parasite Striga hermonthica.

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Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.


The root hemiparasitic weed Striga hermonthica is a serious constraint to grain production of economically important cereals in sub-Saharan Africa. Breeding for parasite resistance in cereals is widely recognized as the most sustainable form of long-term control; however, advances have been limited owing to a lack of cereal germplasm demonstrating postattachment resistance to Striga. Here, we identify a cultivar of rice (Nipponbare) that exhibits strong postattachment resistance to S. hermonthica; the parasite penetrates the host root cortex but does not form parasite-host xylem-xylem connections. In order to identify the genomic regions contributing to this resistance, a mapping population of backcross inbred lines between the resistant (Nipponbare) and susceptible (Kasalath) parents were evaluated for resistance to S. hermonthica. Composite interval mapping located seven putative quantitative trait loci (QTL) explaining 31% of the overall phenotypic variance; a second, independent, screen confirmed four of these QTL. Relative to the parental lines, allelic substitutions at these QTL altered the phenotype by at least 0.5 of a phenotypic standard deviation. Thus, they should be regarded as major genes and are likely to be useful in breeding programmes to enhance host resistance.

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