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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2012 Dec;15(6):708-13. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2012.07.004. Epub 2012 Aug 13.

Plants that attack plants: molecular elucidation of plant parasitism.

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RIKEN Plant Science Center, 1-7-22 Suehiro-cho, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama 230-0045, Japan.


Obligate parasitic plants in the family Orobanchaceae, such as Striga and Orobanche (including Phelipanche) spp., parasitize important crops and cause severe agricultural damage. Recent molecular studies have begun to reveal how these parasites have adapted to hosts in a parasitic lifecycle. The parasites detect nearby host roots and germinate by a mechanism that seems to have evolved from a conserved germination system found in non-parasites. The development of a specialized infecting organ called a haustorium is a unique feature of plant parasites and is triggered by host compounds and redox signals. Newly developed genomic and genetic resources will facilitate more rapid progress toward a molecular understanding of plant parasitism.

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