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Investigatory Project on Parasitic Plants

 

A SURVEY OF PARASITIC PLANTS AND THEIR HOST SPECIFICITY

 

Introduction

 

Any organism that lives on the body of another organism and absorbs nutrients, wholly or partially is termed as parasite. Parasites absorb organic food from the host with the help of sucking roots called haustoria. The haustoria penetrate the host tissue and establish connection with the conducting system of the host plant. In plants different degrees of parasitism can be noted. They are total parasites and partial parasites. They may be stem or root parasites.

 

Materials and Methods

 

Hand lens, watch glass, microscope, knife and scissors were collected. A local area (name of place) was selected to collect and study the parasitic plants. The collection trips were organized in different times of year. Loranthus was collected from a Mango tree. Cuscutta (Dodder) was collected from a cashew tree. Sandal wood tree was collected from a meadow. Near Solanum, Orobanche was collected. All the collected plants were brought to laboratory and their parasitic adaptation and host specificity were studied with the help of authentic text books.

 

Observation and Results

 

The different aspects of parasitism are given in the tabular column given below.


No:

Parasitic Plants

Type of Parasitism

Host

Colour of parasitic plant

1

Loranthus

Partial stem parasite

Mango tree

Green

2

Cuscutta

Total stem parasite

Cashew tree

Pale

3

Sandal wood tree

Partial root parasite

Grass

Green

4

Orobanche

Total root parasite

Solanum

Pale

 

Discussions and Conclusions

 

In the present study an attempt has been made to study the various parasitic plants and their host specificity.

Loranthus was a partial stem parasite and lived on the host a mango tree. Cuscutta was a total stem parasite lived on the host cashew nut tree. The partial root parasite sandal wood tree lived on the roots of grasses. The total root parasite Orobanche lived on the roots of Solanum.

Loranthus, absorbed water and minerals from the xylem of host through haustoria. Penetrating the cortex, it reached the vascular region and established contact with the xylem of host. Loranthus had green leaves. So it could prepare its own food. Loranthus was a partial stem parasite.

Cuscutta had a twining wiry stem devoid of leaves. The haustoria reached the vascular region, and established contact with both xylem and phloem, penetrating through cortex. They absorbed prepared food from the host. Hence Cuscutta was a total stem parasite.

Sandal wood tree was a large tree which lived near grasses. They absorbed prepared food from the host. After some days the host plants such as grasses were destroyed. But the sandal wood tree survived as it had the capacity to prepare its own food. Hence the sandal wood tree was a partial root parasite. Orobanche absorbed the prepared food from the roots of the host by penetrating the haustoria into the xylem and phloem of host. Orobanche had no leaves for carbon assimilation. Hence Orobanche was a total root parasite.


Viva Questions and Answers:

 

1. What are parasitic plants?

 

Plants that grow on other plants for food and shelter

 

2. What is a haustorium?

 

Special type of sucking root present in parasitic plants.

 

3. Name the total root parasite you have studied.

 

Orobanche

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