Source-sink relations of sunflower plants as affected by a parasite modifies carbon allocations and leaf traits Academic Article uri icon


  • Sunflower broomrape (Orobanche cumana) is a root holoparasitic plant causing major damage to sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.). Parasite infection initiates source-sink relations between the parasite (sink) and the host (source), allocating carbohydrates, water and nutrients to the parasite. The primary aim of the current study was to explore responses of sunflower to broomrape parasitism, specifically to examine alternations in leaf area, leaf mass per area (LMA), mesophyll structure and root hydraulic conductivity. Leaf changes revealed modifications similar to described previously in shade adapted plants, causing larger and thinner leaves. These traits were accompanied with significantly higher root hydraulics. These changes were caused by carbohydrate depletion due to source-sink relationships between the host and parasite. An Imazapic herbicide (ALS inhibitor) was used for controlling broomrape attachments and by to investigate the plasticity of the traits found. Broomrape infected plants which were treated with Imazapic had leaves similar to non-infected plants, including mesophyll structure and carbon assimilation rates. These results demonstrated source-sink effects of broomrape which cause a low-light-like acclimation behavior which is reversible.

publication date

  • January 1, 2018