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Root of the Problem: Exploring Host-Parasite interactions in Plants

Root parasitic plants, such as Striga and Orobanche, parasitize the roots of other plants, including important crops, such as rice, sorghum, and maize. After invading the host root, they connect their xylem tissue to the vasculatures of the host and then acquire water and nutrients from the host plants. Some root parasitic plants lack photosynthetic ability and are dependent on the host for all water and nutrients. They cause more than $100 billion in damage annually, and the damage is particularly severe in sub-Saharan Africa.