New genetic opportunities from legume intercrops for controlling Striga spp. parasitic weeds
Hooper, Antony M.
Pickett, John A
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In smallholder farming in East Africa, intercropping of maize with the cattle forage legume, Desmodium uncinatum Jacq., prevents parasitism by Striga hermonthica (Del.) Benth. (witchweed) through an allelopathic mechanism. Isoschaftoside, a di- C-glycosylflavone, isolated from the root extract and root exudate of Desmodium, interferes with in vitro radicle development of germinated Striga. The biosynthetic pathway of this class of compound is already mostly present in edible legumes and in cereals, so characterisation of the enzyme and genes that control C-glycosylflavone biosynthesis has the potential to create this protection mechanism in other agriculturally important plants.