Corn Trap

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A hybrid variety of corn can help farmers get rid of sunflower broomrape, a weed that causes extensive damage and can reduce yields from sunflower fields to half.

The hybrid can act as a trap crop for the weed. It induces germination of the weed’s seed but does not allow the plant to develop and survive, thus causing “suicidal germination” in the parasite. Root extracts from corn have been found to cause more germination in the weed than shoot extracts.

Strigolactone, a chemical produced in the roots of corn, is most likely responsible for this. This knowledge can help breed corn hybrids that are even better at controlling the weed.


Down To Earth, January 2013