Resistance against parasitic weeds

Wageningen University is seeking commercial partners interested in developing plant varieties having enhanced resistance to parasitic weeds and/or other methods to control them.


Parasitic weeds  cause enormous yield losses in agriculture. Broomrapes (Orobanche spp.) and witchweeds (Striga spp.) are serious pests in many countries and the main cause of yield reductions, extensive labour needs and other cultivation costs. The rapid deregistering of old herbicides even further increases the need for solutions. The seeds of parasitic weeds will only germinate after induction by a chemical signal exuded from the roots of their host. Many of these compounds have been isolated and identified from a number of different plant species and are collectively called the strigolactones.

The invention

Wageningen University scientists have found that the strigolactones germination stimulants are synthesized via the carotenoid pathway, which allows for the first time to devise methods for reducing or increasing the production of these germination stimulants. This finding is used to create crop species that do not induce germination of parasitic plant seeds anymore and therefore are resistant to parasitic plants.


Development of (genetically modified) plants having enhanced resistance to parasitic weeds. Other possible applications are the development of specific control measures against parasitic plants based on strigolactone overproducing trap and catch crops.


  • Provides new strategies to improve plant resistance against parasitic weeds
  • May reduce expenses associated with crop loss
  • Can be used in combination with other resistance genes
  • May increase crop yields

Stage of development

Concept and application tested in tomato. Needs proof of concept in more crops and field conditions.