One percent of the angiosperm plants are parasitic. Compared with other autotrophic plants, heterotrophic parasitic plants have interesting distinct physiology, ecology, and evolutionary history. Many parasitic plants infect crop plants and this leads to decreased or even complete loss of yield. These parasites are also hard to control due to their intrinsic connection with the hosts.
Using dodders (Cuscuta spp.), which are holoparasitic plants, as the model, we are interested in:
1.Elucidating the mechanism of dodder foraging;
2.Identifying the important dodder-specific genes which control the development, especially those mediate the development of haustoria;
3.The molecular mechanisms of dodder transport of host nutrients, secondary metabolites and macromolecules;
4.Identifying genes that are important for host defense against parasitization.
Research objective: To understand the physiology, ecology, and evolutionary history of dodder and develop dodder bio-control methods.