Influence of obligate parasite Cuscuta campestris on the community of its host Mikania micrantha


H L Cao, South China Botanical Garden, Guangzhou, 510650, China. Tel: (+86) 20 3725 2996; Fax: (+86) 20 3725 2981; E-mail:


As a means of biologically controlling Mikania micrantha in South China, the influence of the native obligate parasite Cuscuta campestris on its natural community was studied in the field. Mikania micrantha is a non-indigenous vine that smothers other vegetation and has become a major invader of agricultural land and native areas in Southern China. These preliminary results showed pronounced effects on M. micrantha by C. campestris. Cuscuta campestris significantly reduced biomass of M. micrantha, increased species diversity and helped re-establishment of native species. Biomass of M. micrantha decreased from 328 g m−2 to 82 g m−2, biomass of companion species increased from 41 g m−2 to 145 g m−2, the total number of species increased from 7 to 19 and the species diversity index from 1.8 to 5.6, when C. campestris was present. These results indicated that the use of C. campestris could be a potentially effective way of controlling M. micrantha and could help us achieve the novel objective of biological control of weeds using weeds.