Full genome of the parasitic weed Striga deciphered

September 13, 2019

Hope for eradicating the agricultural threat in Africa

An international collaborative group led by RIKEN CSRS and the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) have succeeded in deciphering the genome of the Striga weed.

Particularly problematic in Africa, Striga is a harmful plant that parasitizes major crops and greatly reduces yields. Determining Striga’s whole genome is necessary in order to understand its parasitic mechanisms so that a fundamental solution to control it can be found.

Researchers extracted genomic DNA from Striga strains that invaded the United States in the 1950s and conducted a whole genome sequence analysis and transcriptome analysis, which identified 34,577 predicted protein-encoding genes.

During its adaptive evolution, Striga gained the genes necessary for its parasitism through at least two whole-genome duplication (WGD) events to strikingly expand a family of strigolactone receptor increase the number of strigolactone receptors and thus broaden its host range. Researchers also found evidence of horizontal transfer of host genes to Striga.

The results of this research are expected to contribute to the understanding of Striga evolution and parasitic mechanisms, and the development of Striga control strategies.

Original article
Current Biology doi:10.1016/j.cub.2019.07.086
S. Yoshida, S. Kim, E. K. Wafula, J. Tanskanen, Y.-M. Kim, L. Honaas, Z. Yang, T. Spallek, C. E. Conn, Y. Ichihashi, K. Cheong, S. Cui, J. P. Der, H. Gundlach, Y. Jiao, C. Hori, J. K. Ishida, H. Kasahara, T. Kiba, M.-S. Kim, N. Koo, A. Laohavisit, Y.-H. Lee, S. Lumba, P. McCourt, J. C. Mortimer, J. M. Mutuku, T. Nomura, Y. Sasaki-Sekimoto, Y. Seto, Y. Wang, T. Wakatake, H. Sakakibara, T. Demura, S. Yamaguchi, K. Yoneyama, R. Manabe, D. C. Nelson, A. H. Schulman, M. P. Timko, C. W. dePamphilis, D. Choi, K. Shirasu,
"Genome sequence of Striga asiatica provides insight into the evolution of plant parasitism".
Ken Shirasu
Group Director
Plant Immunity Research Group