Gevezova & al. 2012. Recent advances in Broomrapes research

Gevezova M., Dekalska T., Stoyanov K., Hristeva Ts., Kostov K., Batchvarova R. and Denev I. 2012.
Recent advances in Broomrapes research.
J. Biosci. Biotech. 1(2): 91-105

Orobanchaceae (broomrapes) is a morphologically diverse family of predominantly herbaceous, parasitic plants. The majority of species are facultative or obligate root parasites that subsist on broad-leaf plants, thereby depleting them of nutrients, minerals and water.  The taxonomy status of the family Orobanchaceae among other flowering plants is often subject of debate. They possess only a few morphological features suitable for taxonomy purposes and yet even they are quite changeable. The variability within the species is too high and hampers the attempts to create  proper determination keys. During last two decades several molecular markers were used for reevaluate taxonomy, biodiversity and phylogenetic relationships within the family. Recent investigations supported by molecular taxonomy analyses have resulted in redefinition of Orobanchaceae family. According to this classification Orobanchaceae consists of 89 genera, containing 2061 species. On the Balkans the family Orobanchaceae  is represented by 3 genera: Orobanche includes 25 species; Phelipanche comprises of 9 species and some putative hybrids; Diphelypaea occurs with single species, Diphelypaea boissieri, in Macedonia and Greece. Only a few recent studies based on modern methods  took place during last decade. Their findings confirmed differences between Phelipanche and Orobanche genera, but raised new question about their internal structure. Several broomrape species parasitize important crops. They are widely spread in Bulgaria, Southern Europe, Russia, Middle East and Northern Africa. They cause losses in crop productivity estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars annually than affect the livelihoods of 100 million farmers. A wide variety of approaches have been explored to control broomrapes, but none have been found to be sufficiently effective and affordable. The new findings about their life cycle and the recent genomic project focused on sequences of Ph. aegyptiaca genome open new perspectives for management of the harmful broomrape species and for understanding of their biology and evolution as well.

Key words:  Broomrapes, ecosystem management, germination stimulants, haustorium, molecular taxonomy, Orobanchaceae

Parts of the described studies were funded by the National Science fund of Bulgaria grant IFS-B-606 – module 1, grant DO 02-204, grant DТК 02/40; by NATO grant CLG 983884 and SEE.ERA-Net Plus grant ERA117.

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