Journal Article

Recognition of root exudates by seeds of broomrape (<i>Orobanche</i> and <i>Phelipanche</i>) species

M. Fernández-Aparicio, F. Flores and D. Rubiales

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 103, issue 3, pages 423-431
Published in print February 2009 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online December 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Recognition of root exudates by seeds of broomrape (Orobanche and Phelipanche) species

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims

The long co-existence of broomrapes and their hosts within the same environment has culminated in a strong adaptation and effective parasitism. As a first step of specialization in the parasitic process, seed receptors of parasitic plant species vary in their ability to recognize compounds released by their hosts. This work aims to investigate potential patterns for the reception requirements needed to activate germination within Orobanche and Phelipanche species.


Induction of the germination of seeds of nine Orobanche and Pheliphanche species by root exudates of 41 plant species was studied and subjected to biplot multivariate analysis.

Key Results

A high level of specialization in root exudate recognition was found in Orobanche densiflora, O. gracilis and O. hederae, which germinated almost exclusively in contact with root exudates from the plants they infect in nature. At the opposite extreme, Phelipanche aegyptiaca, P. ramosa and O. minor were highly generalist, germinating when in contact with the root exudates of most plant species. Orobanche crenata, O. cumana and O. foetida showed intermediate behaviour.


A universal germination stimulant for all broomrape species has not being identified to date. The synthetic stimulant GR24 is active against most of the weedy broomrape species, but fails with the non-weedy species tested in this study and with the very recent weedy species O. foetida. In addition, germination behaviour of broomrape species depends on the crop plant tested. Weedy broomrapes with a broad host spectrum respond better to the different exudates released by a wide range of crops and wild species than do non-weedy broomrapes, which have a narrow host spectrum and are more restricted to their host range. Root exudates of many plant species were active in stimulating germination of seeds of Orobanche and Phelipanche species for which they are not described as hosts, representing interesting examples of potential trap crops.

Keywords: Xenognosis; broomrape; root exudate; germination; Orobanche; Phelipanche

Journal Article.  6448 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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