Note: this article was published a few years ago on one of my other blogs.
Striga is a parasitic weed that causes significant damage to a number of important agricultural crops throughout Africa and Asia including:
Now, a recently published study has described the identification of a gene regulating resistance to Striga in sorghum. They report that certain variants of the gene in the region LGS1 (Low Germination Stimulant 1) significantly reduce the ability of Striga to germinate and infest crops. It appears that mutations in the region can alter the chemicals that the root of the plant emits, hindering the ability of parasite to detect the germination signal.
This discovery now opens the door for the identification of other variants of this resistance gene and means there is now the potential for breeders to use genetic markers to select for resistance when crossing varieties of sorghum.