ARO, Newe Ya'ar Research Center, P.O. Box 1021, Ramat Yishay 30095, Israel
The genus Orobanche includes chlorophyll-lacking root parasites that parasitize many dicotyledonous species and causes severe damage to vegetable and field crops worldwide. Sunflower broomrape (Orobanche cumana Wallr.) is known in Eurasia as a specific parasite of sunflower, which differs from the nodding broomrape (O. cernua Loefl) in host specificity and morphological characteristics (3). Together with Egyptian broomrape (O. aegyptiaca Pers.), it seriously parasitizes sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) in Israel (1). Prior to 2000, the local confectionary sunflower cvs. Ambar and Gitit proved to be resistant to the local O. cumana populations in Israel (2). A preliminary study, which we conducted in 1995 using the Vranceanu's differentials (4), indicated that O. cumana populations in Israel behave like the known race C. Using random amplified polymorphic DNA analysis, we also found a very low intraspecific diversity of this species in Israel at that time. However, in 2000, infection of the sunflower cvs. Ambar and Gitit was reported in two fields (Gadot and Afek) in northern Israel. In 2001 and 2002, O. cumana parasitized these cultivars in three more locations as much as 50 km apart (Tel-Adashim, Mevo-Hama, and Bet-Hilel). To determine the virulence of O. cumana populations on sunflower cultivars under controlled conditions, O. cumana seeds were collected in the above mentioned sunflower fields. In addition, we also used seeds from an O. cumana population collected in Alonim in 1997. This latter population did not infect the above mentioned ‘resistant’ sunflower cultivars in the field (2,); therefore, represented the previously known O. cumana populations in Israel. Resistant (Ambar) and susceptible (D.Y.3) sunflower cultivars were planted in separate pots that were differentially filled with soil that was inoculated with O. cumana seeds of the different populations. The experiment was performed in a full factorial arrangement with six replications. As expected, O. cumana from Alonim failed to attack the resistant sunflower. However, the O. cumana populations that were collected in the five other fields seriously attacked both sunflower cultivars, indicating higher virulence. O. cumana from all five new populations proved more virulent than the Alonim population on cvs. Ambar and D.Y.3. The occurrence of these new virulent populations could have several reasons including: (i) importation of virulent parasite seeds from abroad; or (ii) local development of virulence from previously avirulent populations. The latter could be favored by the continuous and repeated use of the available resistant varieties that are all based on a single resistance response (2).
References: (1) H. Eizenberg and D. M. Joel. Orobanche in Israeli agriculture. Workshop of COST Action 849, Parasitic Plant Management in Sustainable Agriculture, 2001. (2) H. Eizenberg et al. Plant Dis. 88:479, 2003. (3) D. M. Joel. Phytoparasitica 16:375, 1988. (4) A. V. Vranceanu et al. Proc. 9th Sunflower Conf. 1:74--82, 1980.