Using the model Orobanchaceae parasitic plant Phtheirospermum japonicum, scientists from Nagoya University and other research institutes from Japan have discerned the molecular mechanisms underlying plant parasitism and cross-species grafting, pinpointing enzyme β-1,4-glucanase (GH9B3) as an important contributor to both phenomena. Targeting this enzyme may help control plant parasitism in crops. Also, this mechanism can be exploited for novel cross-species grafting techniques to realize the goal of sustainable agricultural technologies.
Plant parasitism is a phenomenon by which the parasite plant latches onto and absorbs water and nutrients from a second host plant, with the help of a specialized organ called the “haustorium.” Once the haustorium forms, specific enzymes then help in forming a connection between the tissues of the parasite and host plants, known as a “xylem bridge,” which facilitates the transport of water and nutrients from the host to the parasite.
A similar mechanism is involved in the process