Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 561–579 | Cite as

The haustorium and the chemistry of host recognition in parasitic angiosperms

  • Mayland Chang
  • David G. Lynn


Two parasitic angiosperms,Agalinis purpurea (Scrophulariaceae) andStriga asiatica (Scrophulariaceae), are compared as to the chemical recognition events involved in host selection.Agalinis is a hemiparasite which can mature to seed-set without a host, whereasStriga is a holoparasite and survives for only a very limited time without a host. Both parasites, however, attach to a host through a specialized organ known as the haustorium and regulate the development of this organ through the recognition of chemical factors from host plants. We now describe the discovery of 2,6-dimethoxy-p-benzoquinone (2,6-DMBQ) as an haustoria-inducing principle fromSorghum root extracts. Our investigation of this compound has led us to suggest that one level of host recognition in these parasitic plants is mediated through their enzymatic digestion of the host root surface. Degradation of surface components liberates quinonoid compounds, such as 2,6-DMBQ, which in turn trigger haustorial development.

Key words

Agalinis Striga parasitic angiosperms 2,6-dimethoxy-p-benzoquinone haustoria organogenesis laccase phenol oxidase parasite-host recognition 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mayland Chang
    • 1
  • David G. Lynn
    • 1
  1. 1.Searle Chemistry LaboratoryThe University of ChicagoChicago

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