Macromolecule exchange in Cuscuta-host plant interactions

Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2015 Aug;26:20-5. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2015.05.012. Epub 2015 Jun 4.


Cuscuta species (dodders) are parasitic plants that are able to grow on many different host plants and can be destructive to crops. The connections between Cuscuta and its hosts allow movement of not only water and small nutrients, but also macromolecules including mRNA, proteins and viruses. Recent studies show that RNAs move bidirectionally between hosts and parasites and involve a large number of different genes. Although the function of mobile mRNAs has not been demonstrated in this system, small RNAs are also transmitted and a silencing construct expressed in hosts is able to affect expression of the target gene in the parasite. High throughput sequencing of host-parasite associations has the potential to greatly accelerate understanding of this remarkable interaction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cuscuta / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Plant / genetics


  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Plant