Unraveling and capitalising on mechanisms of host tolerance against parasitic plants to improve crop performance

Jonne Rodenburg (primary)
Natural Resources Institute
University of Greenwich
Onoriode Coast (secondary)
Natural Resources Institute
University of Greenwich


Parasitic plants require a vascular connection with a suitable host plant to germinate, grow and develop – obligate parasites – or to enhance their fitness and reproduction rate – facultative parasites. Parasitism often heavily impacts on host plant performance. Some parasitic plant species cause significant weed problems to food crops. A wide range of tolerance levels has however been observed in different crop species against various parasitic plant species, including Striga spp. Understanding the physiological mechanims of parasitic plant tolerance in some crops could aid the development of cultivars with improved tolerance, and management practices that can enhance host plant tolerance.


1 Kabiri S., Rodenburg J., van Ast A., Pflug S., Kool H., Bastiaans L. 2021. Impact of the facultative parasitic weed Rhamphicarpa fistulosa -Hochst.- Benth. on photosynthesis of its host Oryza sativa L. Journal of Plant Physiology 262, 153438; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jplph.2021.153438

2 Mwangangi I.M., Büchi L., Haefele S.M., Bastiaans L., Runo S., Rodenburg J. 2021. Combining host plant defence with targeted nutrition: key to durable control of hemiparasitic Striga in cereals in sub-Saharan Africa? New Phytologist; https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.17271

3 Coast, O., Posch, B. C., Bramley, H., Gaju, O., Richards, R., Lu, M., Ruan, Y-L., […] Atkin, O. K. Acclimation of leaf photosynthesis and respiration to warming in field-grown wheat. Plant, Cell & Environment, https://doi.org/10.1111/pce.13971

4 Coast, O., Shah, S., Ivakov, A., Gaju, O., Wilson, P. B., Posch, B. C., […] Atkin, O. K. 2019. Predicting dark respiration rates of wheat leaves from hyperspectral reflectance. Plant, Cell & Environment, 427, 2133-2150. doi.org/10.1111/pce.13544

5 Rodenburg, J., Cissoko, M., Kayongo, N., Dieng, I., Bisikwa, J., Irakiza, R., […] & Scholes, J. D. 2017. Genetic variation and host–parasite specificity of Striga resistance and tolerance in rice: the need for predictive breeding. New Phytologist, 214-3, 1267-1280. doi.org/10.1111/nph.14451

Plants, microbes, food and sustainability
Area of Biology
Chemical BiologyPhysiology
Techniques & Approaches
BiochemistryBiophysicsMathematics / Statistics