Cell wall biochemistry of hemiparasitism in Rhinanthus minor L. and Odontites vernus (Bellardi) Dumort.: interactions at haustorial interfaces and implications for grassland biodiversity
Anna Pielach - PhD student in NUIG under the supervision of Dr. Zoe Popper.
In collaboration with Veronika Straberger who Anna worked with on a Guerilla Sci-Art project that the photograph illustrates. Further details can be found at the following link: latch-on.blogspot.com
Hemiparasitic plants steal nutrients from other plants through grafting structures called haustoria. Some hemiparasites , for example Striga species, can have negative and destructive impact on crops. Other species, for example Rhinanthus sp. can increase biodiversity in grasslands by shifting the competitive balance from dominant plants to less vigorous species. My project aims to investigate cell wall biochemistry of haustoria in two native hemiparasitic herbs, Rhinanthus minor and Odontites vernus. I aim to better understand the attachment process and functioning of haustoria by using immunocytochemistry to localise various cell wall molecules. My laboratory work is complemented by field research on biodiversity of native grasslands associated with the presence of hemiparasites.