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Sorghum is an important food, feed, and industrial crop worldwide. Parasitic weeds of the genus Striga constitute a major constraint to sorghum production, particularly in the drier parts of the world. In this study we analysed the Striga germination stimulants, strigolactones, in the root exudates of 36 sorghum genotypes and assessed Striga germination and infection. Low germination-stimulating activity and low Striga infection correlated with the exudation of low amounts of 5-deoxystrigol and high amounts of orobanchol, whereas susceptibility to Striga and high germination- stimulating activity correlated with high concentrations of 5-deoxystrigol and low concentrations of orobanchol. Marker analysis suggested that similar genetics to those previously described for the resistant sorghum variety SRN39 and the susceptible variety Shanqui Red underlie these differences. This study shows that the strigolactone profile in the root exudate of sorghum has a large impact on the level of Striga infection. High concentrations of 5-deoxystrigol result in high infection, while high concentrations of orobanchol result in low infection. This knowledge should help to optimize the use of low germination stimulant-based resistance to Striga by the selection of sorghum genotypes with strigolactone profiles that favour normal growth and development, but reduce the risk of Striga infection.
- Germination stimulant
- Parasitic weed
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