Variation for host range within and among populations of the parasitic plant Striga hermonthica

K. Huang, R. Whitlock, M. C. Press, J. D. Scholes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Striga hermonthica is an angiosperm parasite that causes substantial damage to a wide variety of cereal crop species, and to the livelihoods of subsistence farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. The broad host range of this parasite makes it a fascinating model for the study of host-parasite interactions, and suggests that effective long-term control strategies for the parasite will require an understanding of the potential for host range adaptation in parasite populations. We used a controlled experiment to test the extent to which the success or failure of S. hermonthica parasites to develop on a particular host cultivar (host resistance/compatibility) depends upon the identity of interacting host genotypes and parasite populations. We also tested the hypothesis that there is a genetic component to host range within individual S. hermonthica populations, using three rice cultivars with known, contrasting abilities to resist infection. The developmental success of S. hermonthica parasites growing on different rice-host cultivars (genotypes) depended significantly on a parasite population by host-genotype interaction. Genetic analysis using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers revealed that a small subset of AFLP markers showed outlier genetic differentiation among sub-populations of S. hermonthica attached to different host cultivars. We suggest that, this indicates a genetic component to host range within populations of S. hermonthica, and that a detailed understanding of the genomic loci involved will be crucial in understanding host-parasite specificity and in breeding crop cultivars with broad spectrum resistance to S. hermonthica.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-104
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012


  • AFLP
  • Genetic diversity
  • Oryza sativa
  • Parasite resistance
  • Parasitic plant
  • Striga hermonthica

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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