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Keywords:

  • Parasitic angiosperms;
  • photosynthesis;
  • hemiparasite;
  • holoparasite

Abstract: Parasitic angiosperms are a taxonomically diverse group of plants that invade host tissues and remove resources via a specialized structure known as the haustorium. Through the haustorium, carbon, water and mineral nutrients are withdrawn, often at the expense of host growth and vigour. In addition to the removal of resources from host plants, many parasitic angiosperms are also able to impact host growth via effects on host photosynthesis. In this paper we review what is known about how parasitic angiosperms affect host photosynthesis and the impact this has on host productivity. Holoparasites, that lack chlorophyll, act as extra sinks for host photosynthates and generally either enhance or have a neutral effect on host photosynthetic productivity. In contrast, hemiparasites, that are capable of some autotrophic carbon fixation, usually have a negative impact on host photosynthesis. Irrespective of the outcome of infection, the mechanisms involved in altering host photosynthesis are diverse and may act at either the leaf or whole-plant level. In some cases, parasites impact directly on host photosynthetic metabolism, while in others the effects are more indirect, for example through changing host architecture.