History of the race structure of Orobanche cumana and the breeding of sunflower for resistance to this parasitic weed: A review

Leire Molinero-Ruiz, Philippe Delavault, Begoña Pérez-Vich, Maria Pacureanu-Joita, Mariano Bulos, Emiliano Altieri, Juan Domínguez


Broomrape, caused by Orobanche cumana, has affected sunflowers since the early 20th century in Eastern Europe. Currently, it limits sunflower oil production in Southern and Eastern Europe and in some areas of Asia, causing around 50% seed losses when susceptible hybrids are grown. Covered in this review are aspects such as: biological processes that are common to Orobanche spp. and/or particular to O. cumana in sunflower, genetic resistance and its mechanisms, races of the parasite identified in different countries throughout the time and their increasing virulence, and breeding for resistance to some herbicides as a novel control option. The main purpose is to present an updated and, as far as possible, complete picture of the way both the parasitic weed and its host crop have evolved in time, and how they co-exist in the current agriculture. Additionally, we propose a system for determining the races of the parasite that can be internationally adopted from now. In the context of minimal harmful effects on the environment, changing patterns of land use in farming systems, and global environment changes, the final goal of this work is to provide all those interested in parasites from field crops and their integrated management compiled information on the sunflower – O. cumana system as a case study.


genes of resistance; Helianthus annuus L.; broomrape; parasite races; virulence

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2015134-8080