CO2-assimilation and chlorophyll fluorescence as indirect selection criteria for host tolerance against Striga

J. Rodenburg, L. Bastiaans, A.H.C.M. Schapendonk, P.E.L. van der Putten, A. van Ast, N.J. Dingemanse, B.I.G. Haussmann

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Striga hermonthica (Del.) Benth. is a parasitic weed on tropical cereals causing serious yield losses in Africa. The use of host crop varieties with improved resistance and tolerance against this parasite is a key component of an integrated control strategy. Breeding for tolerance is however seriously hampered by the absence of reliable and yet practical selection measures. The observation that the photosynthetic rate of tolerant genotypes is less sensitive to Striga infection was used as a starting point to search for suitable selection measures. In a greenhouse pot experiment the effect of Striga infection on the photosynthesis of four sorghum (Sorghum bicolor [L.] Moench) genotypes, differing in Striga tolerance level, was measured at three moments in time (26, 48 and 75 days after sowing). Genotypes were CK60-B, E36-1, Framida and Tiémarifing. Measurements involved CO2-assimilation (A) and three chlorophyll fluorescence characteristics (electron transport rate through photosystem II [ETR], photochemical [Pq] and non-photochemical quenching [NPq]). Striga infection negatively affected A, ETR and Pq. Based on A and Pq, genotypes with superior levels of tolerance (Tiémarifing) could be discriminated from genotypes with superior level of resistance (Framida). Both A and Pq showed high heritabilities and consequently clear and predictable differences between genotypes. Using discriminative ability, heritability and cost effectiveness as main criteria, photochemical quenching (Pq) was concluded to possess the highest potential to serve as indirect selection measure for host plant tolerance to Striga. Screening should preferably be conducted at relatively high Striga infestation levels, between Striga emergence and host plant flowering.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-87
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • hermonthica del benth
  • sorghum-bicolor
  • parasite association
  • maize cultivars
  • cold tolerance
  • gas-exchange
  • zea-mays
  • photosynthesis
  • resistance
  • infection

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