Luíza Teixeira-Costa, Postdoctoral Fellow
Harvard University Herbaria
Topic: Comparative studies of the haustorial system in parasitic plants: structural and evolutionary perspectives
The parasitic lifestyle has repeatedly evolved in several occasions in the tree of life. Among plants, parasitic clades are currently believed to have diverged at least 12 times independently, comprising over 1% of the extant diversity of Angiosperms. This diversity is united by the presence of a particular organ known as haustorium, which carries out the main parasitic functions, from initial attachment and invasion of host tissues, to the establishment of parasite-host communication and substance exchange. Considering the importance of this organ for the parasitic plant lifeform, we analyzed the haustorium structure and development in all clades including parasitic plant species. In addition, a broad literature review of the terminology related to haustorium structure was also carried out. In this seminar I’ll discuss convergent features of haustorium structure in different lineages, the different origins of haustorium development, and how it compares to other plant organs. I’ll also point out the main terminology inconsistencies often seen in the literature and how they hamper our understandings of the very parasitic nature of some of this species and lineages.
Host Lab: Davis