Root parasitic plants, such as the witch weed Striga
spp. [S. hermonthica
(Del.) Benth. and S. asiatica
(L.) Kuntze] and the broomrape Orobanches of the Orobanchaceae family, are a major agricultural pest that is considered as one of the seven greatest biological constraints to food production, causing large yield losses in many crops including corn, millet, sorghum, legumes, rapeseed, and tomato. Striga
seeds germinate only in the presence of host plants that release strigolactones into the soil, which are required as germination stimulants. Following germination, seedlings develop haustoria that connect them to the vascular tissues of the host and enable the uptake of photosynthetic products, minerals and water. This connection is essential for the survival of these obligate parasites that will then grow, bloom and set enormous numbers of seeds at the cost of the host plant. Deployment of control strategies that reduce the parasite seed bank and at the same time minimize host-plant root infection are likely to be the most promising control option. In this project, we aim at developing synthetic strigolactone-analogues that can be used to induce the so called “suicidal germination”, i.e. germination in the absence of host plants, and of novel-chemistries that reduce SL release and improve host growth. Moreover, we aim at identifying genetic factors determining SL pattern and employing them for increasing resistance by genetic engineering or through breeding. For more information, visit our webpage Striga solutions at https://strigasolutions.com/.