PLANT GENOMICS

Decoding parasitic plant genomes

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Science  10 Aug 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6402, pp. 565-566
DOI: 10.1126/science.361.6402.565-e

Parasitism has evolved multiple times in plants and resulted in some major agricultural pests, including relatives of the morning glory family called dodder or strangleweed. To examine the effects of parasitism on the genome, Vogel et al. and Sun et al. respectively sequenced the genomes of field dodder (Cuscuta campestris) and Australian dodder (Cuscuta australis). Both studies identified major gene losses, likely facilitating the transformation into leafless, rootless plants unable to photosynthesize. Vogel et al. documented more than 50 examples of gene transfer into field dodder from their hosts. Sun et al. examined transcriptomes of the haustoria, which are specialized organs that allow dodder to extract water and nutrients from host plants.

Nat. Commun. 10.1038/s41467-018-04344-z, 10.1038/s41467-018-04721-8 (2018).

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