, Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 85–93

Resistance of cowpea and cereals to the parasitic angiospermStriga

  • J. A. Lane
  • J. A. Bailey

DOI: 10.1007/BF00023914

Cite this article as:
Lane, J.A. & Bailey, J.A. Euphytica (1992) 63: 85. doi:10.1007/BF00023914


Striga species are parasitic angiosperms that attack many crops grown by subsistence farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and India. Control of the parasite is difficult and genetically resistant crops are the most feasible and appropriate solution. In cowpea, complete resistance toStriga gesnerioides has been identified. Breeding for resistance in sorghum has identified varieties with good resistance toS. asiatica in Africa and India. One variety was also resistant toS. hermonthica in W. Africa. No such resistance toStriga has been found in maize or millets.

Resistant varieties have usually been sought by screening germplasm in fields naturally infested withStriga. However, laboratory techniques have also been developed, including anin vitro growth system used to screen cowpeas for resistance toS. gesnerioides. Two new sources of resistance in cowpea have been identified using the system. The technique has also been used to investigate the mechanisms of resistance in this crop. Two mechanisms have been characterised, both were expressed after penetration of cowpea roots by the parasite.

The resistance of some sorghum varieties toStriga is controlled by recessive genes. In cowpea, resistance toStriga is controlled by single dominant genes. The genes for resistance are currently being transferred to cowpea varieties which are high yielding or adapted to local agronomic conditions. OneStriga resistant cowpea variety, Suvita-2, is already being grown widely by farmers in Mali. Reports of ‘breakdown’ of resistance in cowpea toStriga have not yet been confirmed, but a wider genetic base to the resistance is essential to ensure durability ofStriga resistance.

Key words

breeding for resistancecowpeaparasitic angiospermresistance mechanismssorghumStrigaVigna unguiculataSorghum bicolor



International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics


International Institute of Tropical Agriculture


Long Ashton Research Station


Semi-Arid Food Grain Research and Development

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. A. Lane
    • 1
  • J. A. Bailey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Bristol, AFRC Institute of Arable Crops ResearchLong Ashton Research StationBristolUK