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Molecular convergence of the parasitic plant species Cuscuta reflexa and Phelipanche aegyptiaca


The parasitic plant species Cuscuta reflexa and Phelipanche aegyptiaca have independently developed parasitism, the former parasitizing on shoots and the latter attaching to roots. Regardless of these differences, the two species use similar organs, termed haustoria, to attach to the host plant. In this study, we show that this morphological similarity can be extended to the molecular level. An attAGP-promoter from Solanum lycopersicum, which is activated by Cuscuta infections, was also induced after infection by P. aegyptiaca. Furthermore, we show by validation of transcriptome sequencing data that the Phelipanche orthologue of a haustorium-specific Cuscuta gene, which codes for a cysteine proteinase, was activated in the early stages of Phelipanche invasion. Inhibition of the Phelipanche cysteine proteinase was achieved by 35S- or attAGP-promoter-driven expression of its intrinsic inhibitory polypeptide. A reduction in P. aegyptiaca infection rates during experiments in flower pots and in an in vitro polybag system in comparison to controls was recorded.

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Arabinogalactan protein


Attchment AGP




Parasitic Plant Genome Project


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Correspondence to Ralf Kaldenhoff.

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Rehker, J., Lachnit, M. & Kaldenhoff, R. Molecular convergence of the parasitic plant species Cuscuta reflexa and Phelipanche aegyptiaca . Planta 236, 557–566 (2012).

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  • Arabinogalactan protein
  • Cuscuta
  • Cysteine proteinase
  • Parasitic Plant Genome Project
  • Parasitic plants
  • Phelipanche