, Volume 73, Issue 1-2, pp 51-58

Screening techniques and sources of resistance to parasitic angiosperms

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Abstract

Parasitic angiosperms cause great losses in many important crops under different climatic conditions and soil types. The most widespread and important parasitic angiosperms belong to the genera Orobanche, Striga, and Cuscuta. The most important economical hosts belong to the Poaceae, Asteraceae, Solanaceae, Cucurbitaceae, and Fabaceae. Although some resistant cultivars have been identified in several crops, great gaps exist in our knowledge of the parasites and the genetic basis of the resistance, as well as the availability of in vitro screening techniques. Screening techniques are based on reactions of the host root or foliage. In vitro or greenhouse screening methods based on the reaction of root and/or foliar tissues are usually superior to field screenings and can be used with many species. To utilize them in plant breeding, it is necessary to demonstrate a strong correlation between in vitro and field data. The correlation should be calculated for every environment in which selection is practiced. Using biochemical analysis as a screening technique has had limited success. The reason seems to be the complex host-parasite interactions which lead to germination, rhizotropism, infection, and growth of the parasite. Germination results from chemicals produced by the host. Resistance is only available in a small group of crops. Resistance has been found in cultivated, primitive and wild forms, depending on the specific host-parasite system. An additional problem is the existence of pathotypes in the parasites. Inheritance of host resistance is usually polygenic and its transfer is slow and tedious. Molecular techniques have yet to be used to locate resistance to parasitic angiosperms. While intensifying the search for genes that control resistance to specific parasitic angiosperms, the best strategy to screen for resistance is to improve the already existing in vitro or greenhouse screening techniques.