Rhamphicarpa fistulosa

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A new report showed that rice vampireweed (Rhamphicarpa fistulosa) in Africa affected more than 140,000 farm households and caused losses worth $82 million per year to the continent’s economy.

About Rhamphicarpa fistulosa

  • It isa facultative, parasitic weed that grows on rice which is also known as rice vampireweed.
  • It also affects sorghum and maize and, potentially, other cereal crops. 
  • The weed can germinate and grow independently, but significantly increases its reproductive output when parasitizing a suitable host. 
  • It is not controlled by fertilisers.
  • It is found in at least 35 countries in Africa, with 28 of them home to rainfed lowland rice areas.
  • Countries with the highest estimated infestation rates were Gambia, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Togo and, to a lesser extent, Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau, Benin, Malawi and Tanzania.

What is a parasitic plant?

  • It depends on other plants for part or all of their nutrition. They parasitize by making a xylem-to-xylem connection with the host plant using a specialized organ called haustorium.
  • Through this connection the parasite extracts water, nutrients and metabolites and alters the plant growth regulators of the host, resulting in stunted growth and losses in reproductive output of the host plant.
    • Obligate parasite, also known as holoparasite, is an organism which fails to complete or continue its life cycle without a host. The presence of the host organism is essential for an obligate parasite for reproduction and survival.
    • The facultative parasite is a kind of parasite which is able to complete its life cycle even without a host organism. It can either live independently from the host or dependently with the host in contrast to an obligate parasite.

Q: What Is Mutualism?

It is an association between organisms of two different species in which each benefits. Mutualistic arrangements are most likely to develop between organisms with widely different living requirements.

Source: Vampireweed threatens rice production in Africa. What do we know about it?