After the book - Progress in parasitic plant research since Kuijt's Biology of Parasitic Flowering Plants (1969)
Musselman, Lytton John .
Parasitic Weeds in World Agriculture–The Best of Times, the Worst of Times.
On a world wide basis, the most serious parasitic weeds impacting food production are: witchweeds, species of the genus Striga, especially S. hermonthica; broomrapes, species of the genus Orobanche; and dodder, species of Cuscuta. Witchweeds are probably the most serious because they affect subsistence crops in the Sahel where few grains can grow. Meaningful figures on the extent of crop damage are lacking but losses can be locally devastating. During the past forty years extraordinary progress has been made in understanding the biology of parasitic weeds including elucidation of the germination process and haustorial initiation. These findings have little impact on the farmers affected by parasitic weeds–among the poorest people on the globe. The most frequent method of control remains hand weeding, a labor intensive effort. Development agencies have emphasized the production of host varieties which can tolerate parasitism but still produce an acceptable crop yield as a control method. Considerable funds have been expended to investigate different strategies including herbicides, genetically modified hosts, crop rotations, and biocontrol-- among others. Yet the severity of the problem, particularly with Striga in Africa, does not seem to be ameliorated. New measures are needed including research to understand the evolution of virulence and the development of virulent strains from indigenous species. For real progress to be made, a multi disciplinary approach is essential and with significant funding. At the least, a farm or series of farms committed to research on parasitic weeds is needed.
1 - Old Dominion University, Department of Biological Sciences, Norfolk, Virginia, 23529-0266, USA
Presentation Type: Symposium
Location: Ballroom 2 (Cliff Lodge)
Date: Monday, August 2nd, 2004
Time: 8:00 AM