Floral volatiles in parasitic plants of the orobanchaceae. Ecological and taxonomic implications

Peter Tóth*, Anna K. Undas, Francel Verstappen, Harro Bouwmeester

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The holoparasitic broomrapes, Orobanche spp. and Phelipanche spp. (Orobanchaceae), are root parasites that completely depend on a host plant for survival and reproduction. There is considerable controversy on the taxonomy of this biologically and agronomically important family. Flowers of over 25 parasitic Orobanchaceae and a number of close, parasitic and non-parasitic, relatives emitted a complex blend of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), consisting of over 130 VOCs per species. Floral VOC blend-based phylogeny supported the known taxonomy in internal taxonomic grouping of genus and eliminated the uncertainty in some taxonomical groups. Moreover, phylogenetic analysis suggested separation of the broomrapes into two main groups parasitizing annual and perennial hosts, and for the annual hosts, into weedy and non-weedy broomrapes. We conclude that floral VOCs are a significant tool in species identification and possibly even in defining new species and can help to improve controversial taxonomy in the Orobanchaceae.

Original languageEnglish
Article number312
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2016


  • Broomrapes
  • Floral scents
  • Orobanche
  • Phelipanche
  • Phylogenetic patterns
  • Taxonomy
  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Weeds

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