A femtomolar-range suicide germination stimulant for the parasitic plant Striga hermonthica

Science. 2018 Dec 14;362(6420):1301-1305. doi: 10.1126/science.aau5445.


The parasitic plant Striga hermonthica has been causing devastating damage to the crop production in Africa. Because Striga requires host-generated strigolactones to germinate, the identification of selective and potent strigolactone agonists could help control these noxious weeds. We developed a selective agonist, sphynolactone-7, a hybrid molecule originated from chemical screening, that contains two functional modules derived from a synthetic scaffold and a core component of strigolactones. Cooperative action of these modules in the activation of a high-affinity strigolactone receptor ShHTL7 allows sphynolactone-7 to provoke Striga germination with potency in the femtomolar range. We demonstrate that sphynolactone-7 is effective for reducing Striga parasitism without impinging on host strigolactone-related processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Crops, Agricultural
  • Germination / drug effects*
  • Herbicides / chemistry
  • Herbicides / pharmacology*
  • Lactones / metabolism*
  • Plant Weeds / drug effects*
  • Plant Weeds / physiology
  • Seeds / drug effects
  • Striga / drug effects*
  • Striga / growth & development


  • Herbicides
  • Lactones