Research Promotion Division (RPD),
Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (ITbM), Nagoya University
Striga is a plant which parasites on crops, causing the host plants (grain) to die out. The parasitic plant "Striga," also known as "Witchweed," has had a significant impact on crop production and its spread has become a major threat in Africa. The ITbM research group focused on the germinating characteristics of Striga and succeeded in developing an innovative molecule "SPL7" for eradicating it. SPL7 is a molecule that strongly induces germination of Striga so that, by using SPL7, Striga is forcibly sprouted and died out before planting the seeds of the host plant. By this method, we will reduce the opportunity of invasion of host plants such as grains and eventually eradicate it.
Verification of SPL7 toward practical use in Kenya
SPL7 has little effect on the biological environment such as bacteria in crops and soil, and can promote the germination of Striga at extremely low concentration (1/1013-15mol/L). This activity is comparable to that of the naturally occurring germination stimulator (strigolactone) produced by the host plant, resulting in the artificial strigolactone molecule with the highest activity so far. Based on this result, we will conduct field tests of SPL7 against Striga that have caused heavy damage to the crop production in Kenya and will verify them toward practical use.
SL-like molecules work as inducers of suicidal germination to purge the soil of viable Striga seeds before planting the crop seed.
"A femto-molar range suicide germination stimulant for the parasitic plant Striga hermonthica" by Daisuke Uraguchi, Keiko Kuwata, Yuh Hijikata, Rie Yamaguchi, Hanae Imaizumi, Sathiyanarayanan AM, Christin Rakers, Narumi Mori, Kohki Akiyama, Stephan Irle, Peter McCourt, Toshinori Kinoshita, Takashi Ooi, Yuichiro Tsuchiya, Science 2018, 362, 6420. DOI: 10.1126/science.aau5445