Feature Article

In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology - Plant

, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 369-381

First online:

Tissue culture of parasitic flowering plants: Methods and applications in agriculture and forestry

  • Shannon J. DeeksAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University
  • , Simon F. ShamounAffiliated withCanadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry Centre
  • , Zamir K. PunjaAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University Email author 

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Parasitic flowering plants from 23 genera in 7 families (Convolvulaceae, Lauraceae, Loranthaceae, Orobanchaceae, Santalaceae, Scrophulariaceae and Viscaceae) have been cultured in vitro. These plants include both hemiparasites and holoparasites that parasitize stems and roots of angiosperms and gymnosperms. This review highlights relevant information on each genus with regard to its biology, distribution, host range, and tissue culture procedures. Tissue culture has been used to study aspects of the development, metabolism, reproduction, physiology and nutritional requirements of these plants under controlled conditions. Studies of host-parasite relationships, including potential roles of signals/receptors that influence host development and physiology, and factors influencing seed germination and haustorium formation, have been conducted. The effects of chemicals and herbicides on the physiology and biochemistry of parasite embryo and seedling development have been studied, as well as the influence of inhibitors or stimulants on seed germination. Tissue culture has provided a method for propagation and genetic improvement of plants with commercial value.

Key words

broomrape dodder figwort laurel mistletoe sandalwood