Convergent evolution of strigolactone perception enabled host detection in parasitic plants

Caitlin E. Conn, Rohan Bythell-Douglas, Drexel Neumann, Satoko Yoshida, Bryan Whittington, James H. Westwood, Ken Shirasu, Charles S. Bond, Kelly A. Dyer, David C. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

221 Citations (Scopus)


Obligate parasitic plants in the Orobanchaceae germinate after sensing plant hormones, strigolactones, exuded from host roots. In Arabidopsis thaliana, the a/b-hydrolase D14 acts as a strigolactone receptor that controls shoot branching, whereas its ancestral paralog, KAI2, mediates karrikin-specific germination responses.We observed that KAI2, but not D14, is present at higher copy numbers in parasitic species than in nonparasitic relatives. KAI2 paralogs in parasites are distributed into three phylogenetic clades.The fastest-evolving clade, KAI2d, contains the majority of KAI2 paralogs. Homology models predict that the ligandbinding pockets of KAI2d resemble D14. KAI2d transgenes confer strigolactone-specific germination responses to Arabidopsis thaliana. Thus, the KAI2 paralogs D14 and KAI2d underwent convergent evolution of strigolactone recognition, respectively enabling developmental responses to strigolactones in angiosperms and host detection in parasites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)540-543
Number of pages4
Issue number6247
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2015


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