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Effects of Light Level and Nitrogen Supply on the Red Clover–Orobanche Minor Host–Parasite Interaction

School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba 305-8577, Japan
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Present address: Animal and Plant Science, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
Plants 2019, 8(6), 146;
Received: 5 April 2019 / Revised: 28 May 2019 / Accepted: 30 May 2019 / Published: 31 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Physiology and Metabolism)
PDF [1511 KB, uploaded 31 May 2019]


Infection by holoparasitic plants typically causes decreases in host mass, thought to be primarily as a result of resource abstraction. Inverse relationships have been noted between the number of Orobanche spp. parasites infecting a host and their mass, suggesting that the parasites compete for a shared resource pool, assumed to be recently fixed carbon (C). In clover, nitrogen (N) fixation requires a high proportion of daily photosynthate and represents a potential competitor for recently fixed C. We grew Trifolium pratense, either singly or parasitised by Orobanche minor, under high or low light levels, and with or without exogenous N supply. Low light and N deficiency led to decreased host biomass, while the damage caused by parasitism was proportionate to host mass. Parasitism caused reductions in host leaf mass, area, photosynthetic rates and shoot N concentration, but did not affect starch accumulation. Parasite mass as a proportion of system biomass was significantly higher when attached to plants grown at high light, which was attributed to higher photoassimilate supply, while the N supply had no effect. While both N limitation and parasitism caused reductions in host growth, little evidence of competition for C between N fixation and the parasites was noted. View Full-Text
Keywords: Trifolium pratense; Orobanche minor; parasitism; photosynthesis; nitrogen deficiency Trifolium pratense; Orobanche minor; parasitism; photosynthesis; nitrogen deficiency

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Jokinen, J.I.; Irving, L.J. Effects of Light Level and Nitrogen Supply on the Red Clover–Orobanche Minor Host–Parasite Interaction. Plants 2019, 8, 146.

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