Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Curr Biol. 2011 Dec 20;21(24):2098-104. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.11.011. Epub 2011 Dec 8.

Transcriptomes of the parasitic plant family Orobanchaceae reveal surprising conservation of chlorophyll synthesis.

Author information

Department of Biology, Institute of Molecular Evolutionary Genetics, and Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


Parasitism in flowering plants has evolved at least 11 times [1]. Only one family, Orobanchaceae, comprises all major nutritional types of parasites: facultative, hemiparasitic (partially photosynthetic), and holoparasitic (nonphotosynthetic) [2]. Additionally, the family includes Lindenbergia, a nonparasitic genus sister to all parasitic Orobanchaceae [3-6]. Parasitic Orobanchaceae include species with severe economic impacts: Striga (witchweed), for example, affects over 50 million hectares of crops in sub-Saharan Africa, causing more than $3 billion in damage annually [7]. Although gene losses and increased substitution rates have been characterized for parasitic plant plastid genomes [5, 8-11], the nuclear genome and transcriptome remain largely unexplored. The Parasitic Plant Genome Project (PPGP; [2] is leveraging the natural variation in Orobanchaceae to explore the evolution and genomic consequences of parasitism in plants through a massive transcriptome and gene discovery project involving Triphysaria versicolor (facultative hemiparasite), Striga hermonthica (obligate hemiparasite), and Phelipanche aegyptiaca (Orobanche [12]; holoparasite). Here we present the first set of large-scale genomic resources for parasitic plant comparative biology. Transcriptomes of above-ground tissues reveal that, in addition to the predictable loss of photosynthesis-related gene expression in P. aegyptiaca, the nonphotosynthetic parasite retains an intact, expressed, and selectively constrained chlorophyll synthesis pathway.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center