Genotypic variation in resistance to Striga parasitism of maize

L. M. Mumera, F. E. Below

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Because the parasitic angiosperm Striga (Striga hermonthica Del. Benth) can cause severe yield losses in tropical maize (Zea mays L.), field experiments were conducted at Kibos, Kenya, in 1989 and 1990 to assess genotypic variation in maize for Striga resistance, and to determine plant growth processes associated with this resistance. The site had a high and relatively uniform infestation of Striga, and had been followed the previous two years. One experiment evaluated vegetative and reproductive development of four common maize genotypes, while a second experiment examined reproductive development of 16 diverse maize genotypes. Based on seasonal counts of emerged Striga plants, infection differed by more than three-fold between the most and least susceptible genotypes, with early maturity types generally being the most resistant. This resistance was related to rapid vegetative growth and early reproductive development, which resulted in a strong ear sink before incipient competition form Striga. Weaker initial reproductive sinks and higher concentrations of non-structural carbohydrates in stalks were related to greater susceptibility of full-season genotypes. Identification or selection of Striga-resistant maize genotypes should focus on the ability of the host-plant ear sink to successfully compete with Striga for assimilates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-262
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1996


  • Assimilate partitioning
  • Genetic variation
  • Striga
  • Yield

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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