Volume 93 Issue 40 | pp. 30-31 | Concentrates
Issue Date: October 12, 2015

Parasitic Plant Has Flexible Detection Strategy For Finding Its Dinner

Quorum Sensing: Predatory witchweed capitalizes on a protein receptor’s spacious binding pocket to detect a diversity of prey hormones
Department: Science & Technology | Collection: Life Sciences, Sustainability
News Channels: Biological SCENE, Environmental SCENE
Keywords: plant parasite, food security, purple witchwood

Purple witchweed is a nefarious predator in Africa. Each year the parasitic plant devours billions of dollars’ worth of rice, sorghum, millet, and sugarcane crops by sniffing out chemicals released into the soil by the unsuspecting crops. These chemicals—a family of diverse hormones called strigolactones—are produced by many plants to recruit symbiotic root fungi. The strigolactones also activate germination of purple witchweed seeds, and the resulting parasitic seedlings rob their prey of nutrients. Researchers have . . .

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