The role of infection time in the differential response of sorghum cultivars to Striga helmonthica infection

A. van Ast, L. Bastiaans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Striga hermonthica is an important parasitic weed that severely reduces yields of sorghum in sub-Saharan Africa. Pot experiments with the sensitive sorghum cultivar CK60-B and the tolerant Tiémarifing were conducted in 1999 and 2000 to investigate the role of infection time on the interaction between sorghum and Striga hermonthica. Timing of Striga inoculation was used to establish delays of one and two weeks in first attachment of the parasite. In 1999, early Striga inoculation resulted in a relatively early first Striga attachment on CK60-B. Although first infection of Tiémarifing occurred one week later, an identical final number of emerged Striga plants was observed. Plants of CK60-B were more severely affected and supported a higher total Striga biomass. Only with this cultivar the interaction between host and parasite was significantly affected by delayed infection. Parasite biomass was most sensitive and already significantly reduced following a 1-week delay in infection time. With a further 1-week delay, an additional reduction in parasite biomass was accompanied by a strong and significant increase in total and panicle dry weight of the host plant. In 2000, first infection of CK60-B was relatively late and occurred simultaneously with first infection of Tiémarifing and no significant effect of delayed infection on Striga biomass or host-plant performance was observed. The results indicate that the influence of delayed infection strongly depends on actual infection time and confirm that earlier observed differences in time of first infection between the two cultivars do contribute to the more tolerant response of Tiémarifing to Striga infection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-274
JournalWeed Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • leaf-area
  • photosynthesis
  • growth
  • maize
  • dynamics

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