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The Mechanism Of Host-induced Germination In Root Parasitic Plants

David C Nelson

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Abstract Chemical signals known as strigolactones (SLs) were discovered more than 50 years ago as host-derived germination stimulants of parasitic plants in the Orobanchaceae. Strigolactone-responsive germination is an essential adaptation of obligate parasites in this family, which depend upon a host for survival. Several species of obligate parasites, including witchweeds (Striga, Alectra spp.) and broomrapes (Orobanche, Phelipanche spp.), are highly destructive agricultural weeds that pose a significant threat to global food security. Understanding how parasites sense SLs and other host-derived stimulants will catalyze the development of innovative chemical and biological control methods. This review synthesizes the recent discoveries of strigolactone receptors in parasitic Orobanchaceae, their signaling mechanism, and key steps in their evolution.