Parasitic plants obtain their nutrition from their hosts. In addition to this direct damage, they cause indirect damage to their hosts by transmitting various plant pathogens. There are some 4,500 species of parasitic plants known; out of them, nearly 60% are root parasites and the rest of them parasitise on the shoot parts. Orobanchaceae and Convolvulaceae are the two mostly studied families of parasitic plants; and the parasitic plants are the chief mode for transmission of the phytoplasmas. The parasitic plants have various modes of obtaining nutrition; however, the information about the mechanism(s) involved in the pathogen transmission by the parasitic plants is limited. The latest biotechnolgical advances, such as metagenomics and high througput sequencing, carry immense promise in understanding the host-parasitic plant-pathogen association in deeper details; and initiatives have indeed been taken. Nevertheless, compared to the other pests hindering crop productivity, parasitic plants have not yet been able to gain the needed attention of the plant scientists. In this chapter, we review and present some of the latest advances in the area of these important plant pests.
Part of the book: Parasitic Plants