Annual Review of Phytopathology (2019) 57, 279-299
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Molecular dialog between parasitic plants and their hosts
Annual Review of Phytopathology 57, 279-299
Abstract: Parasitic plants steal sugars, water, and other nutrients from host plants through a haustorial connection. Several species of parasitic plants such as witchweeds (Striga spp.) and broomrapes (Orobanche and Phelipanche spp.) are major biotic constraints to agricultural production. Parasitic plants are understudied compared with other major classes of plant pathogens, but the recent availability of genomic and transcriptomic data has accelerated the rate of discovery of the molecular mechanisms underpinning plant parasitism. Here, we review the current body of knowledge of how parasitic plants sense host plants, germinate, form parasitic haustorial connections, and suppress host plant immune responses. Additionally, we assess whether parasitic plants fit within the current paradigms used to understand the molecular mechanisms of microbial plant–pathogen interactions. Finally, we discuss challenges facing parasitic plant research and propose the most urgent questions that need to be answered to advance our understanding of plant parasitism.
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