Colonization by Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi of Sorghum Leads to Reduced Germination and Subsequent Attachment and Emergence of Striga hermonthica

Lendzemo, V.W.; Kuyper, T.W.; Matusova, R.; Bouwmeester, H.J.; Ast, A. van


Two sorghum cultivars: the Striga-tolerant S-35 and the Striga-sensitive CK60-B were grown with or without arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, and with or without phosphorus addition. At 24 and 45 days after sowing (DAS) of sorghum, root exudates were collected and tested for effects on germination of preconditioned Striga hermonthica seeds. Root exudates from AM sorghum plants induced lower germination of S. hermonthica seeds than exudates from non-mycorrhizal sorghum. The magnitude of this effect depended on the cultivar and harvest time. A significantly (88-97%) lower germination of S. hermonthica seeds upon exposure to root exudates from AM S-35 plants was observed at both harvest times whereas for AM inoculated CK60-B plants a significantly (41%) lower germination was observed only at 45 DAS. The number of S. hermonthica seedlings attached to and emerged on both sorghum cultivars were also lower in mycorrhizal than in non-mycorrhizal plants. Again, this reduction was more pronounced with S-35 than with CK60-B plants. There was no effect of phosphorus addition on Striga seed germination, attachment or emergence. We hypothesize that the negative effect of mycorrhizal colonization on Striga germination and on subsequent attachment and emergence is mediated through the production of signaling molecules (strigolactones) for AM fungi and parasitic plants.