Acta Botanica Brasilica
Print version ISSN 0102-3306
On-line version ISSN 1677-941X
CRUZ NETO, Oswaldo; LEAL, Inara Roberta; SANTOS, Jean Carlos and LOPES, Ariadna Valentina. A holoparasitic plant severely reduces the vegetative and reproductive performance of its host plant in the Caatinga, a Brazilian seasonally dry forest. Acta Bot. Bras. [online]. 2017, vol.31, n.1, pp.147-152. Epub Mar 13, 2017. ISSN 0102-3306. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/0102-33062016abb0361.
Host-parasite interactions between plants may reduce the vegetative and reproductive performance of the host plant. Although it is well established that parasitic plants may negatively affect the metabolism and the number of vegetative/reproductive structures of their hosts, the effects of this interaction on the reproductive characteristics of the host plant are poorly understood. Here we document the interaction between Cuscuta partita (Convolvulaceae) and its main host, Zornia diphylla (Fabaceae), in the Caatinga of northeastern Brazil. We measured diverse reproductive/vegetative attributes of Z. diphylla in 60 plots randomly distributed in patches that were parasitized and not parasitized by C. partita. Both vegetative and reproductive attributes, such as the number of branches, leaves and flowers, and the individual biomass of Z. diphylla were significantly reduced by the parasitism. The number of pollen grains and ovules per flower were not affected by the parasitism, but since the parasitism reduced flower production, the total number of pollen and ovules per individual and population may also be reduced. Additionally, pollen viability was significantly reduced in the flowers of parasitized individuals. We conclude that C. partita may negatively impact the vegetative and reproductive performance of its main host, Z. diphylla in distinct ways in the Caatinga.
Keywords : Caatinga; Cuscuta partita; floral traits; haustoria; holoparasitic plants; plant-plant interaction; pollen viability; reproductive success; Zornia diphylla.