e-ISSN 2231-8542
ISSN 1511-3701

Home / Regular Issue / JTAS Vol. 46 (1) Feb. 2023 / JTAS-2513-2022


Biological Control Strategies of Purple Witchweed, Striga hermonthica: A Review

Nadia Yasseen Osman, Muhammad Saiful Hamdani, Siti Nurbaya Oslan, Dzarifah Mohamed Zulperi and Noor Baity Saidi

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 46, Issue 1, February 2023


Keywords: African agriculture, bio-protection, crop, microorganisms, parasitic weed

Published on: 22 Febuary 2023

The genus of Striga spp., particularly Striga hermonthica, is an obligate root-hemiparasitic weed. Striga affects 25 African countries annually and is considered a major biotic threat to food security. This obnoxious weed species has been managed using various control strategies. However, the strategies have not been highly effective due to the complexity of the Striga life cycle and special interactions with its host. Biological control, considered a safer and ‘greener’ alternative, has drawn attention due to numerous reports on the potential of biological agents, including insects and microorganisms, to control Striga. Although researchers agree on the importance of the biocontrol approach as one of the alternative eco-friendly methods to manage Striga spp., the decreasing effectiveness of some biocontrol agents when introduced into new environments, in addition to requirements before and during the application, restricts the application of biological control on a large scale until today. This review focuses on the current knowledge of control strategies to manage Striga, emphasizing the biological control method. The challenges that limit the application of biological control to manage Striga on a broader scale are also highlighted.

  • Abbasher, A. A., Kroschel, J., & Sauerborn, J. (1995). Microorganisms of Striga hermonthica in northern Ghana with potential as biocontrol agents. Biocontrol Science and Technology, 5(2), 157-162.

  • Ahmed, N., Sugimoto, Y., Babiker, A., Mohamed, O., Ma, Y., Inanaga, S., & Nakajima, H. (2001). Effects of Fusarium solani isolates and metabolites on Striga germination. Weed Science, 49(3), 354-358.[0354:EOFSIA]2.0.CO;2

  • Ahonsi, M. O., Berner, D. K., Emechebe, A. M., Lagoke, S. T., & Sanginga, N. (2003). Potential of ethylene-producing Pseudomonas in combination with effective N2-fixing Bradyrhizobial strains as supplements to legume rotation for Striga hermonthica control. Biological Control, 28(1), 1-10.

  • Ahonsi, M. O., Berner, D. K., Emechebem, A. M., & Lagoke, S. T. (2002). Selection of rhizobacterial strains for suppression of germination of Striga hermonthica (Del.) Benth. seeds. Biological Control, 24(2), 143-152.

  • Ali, H. A., Elamin, H. B., Dirar, H. A., & Sulieman, A. E. (2013). Biological control of Striga hermonthica Del. Benth: Screening for bacteria scavenging strigol. American Journal of Biochemistry, 3(4), 89-92.

  • Aquino, B., Bradley, J. M., & Lumba, S. (2021). On the outside looking in: Roles of endogenous and exogenous strigolactones. The Plant Journal, 105(2), 322-334.

  • Babalola, O., Berner, D., & Amusa, N. (2007). Evaluation of some bacterial isolates as germination stimulants of Striga hermonthica. African Journal of Agricultural Research, 2(1), 27-30.

  • Babiker, A. G. T. (2007). Striga: The spreading scourge in Africa. Regulation of Plant Growth and Development, 42(1), 74-87.

  • Bale, J. S, van Lenteren, J. C., & Bigler, F. (2008). Biological control and sustainable food production. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Science, 363(1492), 761-76.

  • Barzman, M., Bàrberi, P., Birch, A. N. E., Boonekamp, P. M., Dachbrodt-Saaydeh, S., Graf, B., Hommel, B., Jensen, J. E., Kiss, J., Kudsk, P., Lamichhane, J. R., Messéan, A., Moonen, A. C., Ratnadass, A., Ricci, P., Sarah, J. L., & Sattin, M. (2015). Eight principles of integrated pest management. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 35(4), 1199-1215.

  • Bashir, W.O. (1987). The potential for biocontrol of witchweeds. In L. J. Musselman (Ed.), Parasitic weeds in agriculture (Vol. 1, pp. 183-206). CRC Press.

  • Bekele, M. (2020). The importance of microorganisms in depleting Striga seed banks to enhance Sorghum productivity: A review. International Journal of Advanced Research in Biological Sciences, 7(4), 107-115.

  • Berner, D. K., Schaad, N. W., & Völksch, B. (1999). Use of ethylene-producing bacteria for stimulation of Striga spp. seed germination. Biological Control, 15(3), 274–282.

  • Boari, A., Ciasca, B., Pineda-Martos, R., Lattanzio, V. M., Yoneyama, K., & Vurro, M. (2016). Parasitic weed management by using strigolactone-degrading fungi. Pest Management Science, 72(11), 2043–2047.

  • Bonfante, P., & Genre, A. (2010). Mechanisms underlying beneficial plant–fungus interactions in mycorrhizal symbiosis. Nature Communication, 1, 48.

  • Cardoso, C., Ruyter-Spira, C., & Bouwmeester, H. J. (2011). Strigolactones and root infestation by plant-parasitic Striga, Orobanche and Phelipanche spp. Plant Science: An International Journal of Experimental Plant Biology, 180(3), 414–420.

  • Clarke, C. R., Timko, M. P., Yoder, J. I., Axtell, M. J., & Westwood, J. H. (2019). Molecular dialog between parasitic plants and their hosts. Annual Review of Phytopathology, 57, 279–299.

  • Cook, R. J., & Baker, K. F. (1983). The nature and practice of biological control of plant pathogens. APS Press.

  • Danhorn, T., & Fuqua, C. (2007). Biofilm formation by plant-associated bacteria. Annual Review of Microbiology, 61, 401–422.

  • David, O. G., Ayangbenro, A. S., Odhiambo, J. J. O., & Babalola, O. O. (2022). Striga hermonthica: A highly destructive pathogen in maize production. Environmental Challenges, 8, 100590.

  • De Groote, H., Wangareb, L., Kanampiua, F., Odendoc, M., Dialloa, A., Karayaa, H., & Friesend, D. (2008). The potential of a herbicide resistant maize technology for Striga control in Africa. Agricultural Systems, 97(1-2), 83–94.

  • Druille, M., Omacini, M., Golluscio, R. A., & Cabello, M. N. (2013). Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are directly and indirectly affected by glyphosate application. Applied Soil Ecology, 72, 143–149.

  • Eizenberg, H., Hershenhorn, J., Ephrath, J. H., & Kanampiu, F. (2013). Chemical control. In D. M. Joel, J. Gressel, & L. J. Musselman (Eds.), Parasitic Orobanchaceae: Parasitic mechanisms and control strategies (pp. 415–432). Springer.

  • Erdogan, P. (2021). Parasitic plants in agriculture and management. In A. M. Gonzalez & H. A. Sato (Eds.), Parasitic plants. IntechOpen.

  • Fernández-Aparicio, M., Bernard, A., Falchetto, L., Marget, P., Chauvel, B., Steinberg, C., Morris, C. E., Gibot-Leclerc, S., Boari, A., Vurro, M., Bohan, D. A., Sands, D. C., & Reboud, X. (2017). Investigation of amino acids as herbicides for control of Orobanche minor parasitism in red clover. Frontiers in Plant Science, 8, 842.

  • Fernández-Aparicio, M., Delavault, P., & Timko, M. P. (2020). Management of infection by parasitic weeds: A review. Plants, 9(9), 1184.

  • Gafar, N., Hassan, M., Rugheim, A., Osman, A., Mohamed, I., Abdelgani, M., & Babiker, A. G. T. (2015). Evaluation of endophytic bacterial isolates on germination and haustorium initiation of Striga hermonthica (Del.) Benth. International Journal of Farming and Allied Sciences, 4(4), 302–308.

  • Gamir, J., Torres-Vera, R., Rial, C., Berrio, E., de Souza Campos, P. M., Varela, R. M., Macias, F. A., Pozo, M. J., Flors, V., & Lopez-Raez, J. A. (2020). Exogenous strigolactones impact metabolic profiles and phosphate starvation signalling in roots. Plant, Cell and Environment, 43(7), 1655-1668.

  • Gworgwor, N. A., & Weber, H. C. (2003). Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi-parasite-host interaction for the control of Striga hermonthica (Del.) Benth. in sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench]. Mycorrhiza, 13, 277-281.

  • Hailu, G., Niassy, S., Zeyaur, K.R., Ochatum, N., & Subramanian, S. (2018). Maize-legume intercropping and push-pull for management of fall armyworm, stemborers, and Striga in Uganda. Agronomy Journal, 110(6), 2513-2522.

  • Hasan, M., Ahmad-Hamdani, M.S., Rosli, A.M., Hamdan, H. (2021). Bioherbicides: An eco-friendly tool for sustainable weed management. Plants, 10(6), 1212.

  • Hassan, M. M., Abdelhalim, T. S., Yagoub, S. O., Osman, A. G., Gani, M. E. A., & Babiker, A. G. E. (2011). Effects of arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi (AMF), plant growth promoting bacteria (PGPR) and interaction on Striga hermonthica management in sorghum. International Journal of Agriculture: Research and Review, 1, 107–115.

  • Hassan, M. M., Azrag, M. A., Rugheim, A. M. E., Abusin, R. M. A., Elnasikh, M. H., Modawi, H., Ahmed, M. M., Abakeer, R. A., Osman, A. G., Abdelgani, M. E., & Babiker, A. G. E. (2019). Potential of Trichoderma harzianum as a biocontrol agent against Striga hermonthica in sorghum. International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences, 8(03), 195-206.

  • Hassan, M. M., Gani, M. E. A., & Babiker, A. G. T. (2011). Effects of bacterial strains and isolates on in situ germination, subsequent developmental stage of Striga hermonthica on to sorghum roots. Advances in Environmental Biology, 5(10), 3263–3269.

  • Haussmann, B. I. G., Hess, D. E., Welz, H. G., & Geiger, H. (2000). Improved methodologies for breeding striga-resistant sorghums. Field Crop Research, 66(3), 195-211.

  • International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association. (2018). IBMA white paper: New EU regulatory framework for bioprotection agents. IBMA.

  • Jamil, M., Charnikhova, T., Verstappen, F., Ali, Z., Wainwright, H., & Bouwmeester, H. J. (2014). Effect of phosphate-based seed priming on strigolactone production and Striga hermonthica infection in cereals. Weed Research, 54(3), 307–313.

  • Jamil, M., Kountche, B. A., & Al-Babili, S. (2021). Current progress in Striga management. Plant Physiology, 185(4), 1339–1352.

  • Joel, D. M., Gressel, J., & Musselman, L. J. (Eds.) (2013). Parasitic Orobanchaceae: Parasitic mechanisms and control strategies. Springer.

  • Kroschel, J., Jost, A., & Sauerborn, J. (1999). Insects for Striga control – Possibilities and constraints. In J. Kroschel, H. Mercer-Quarshie, & J. Sauerborn (Eds.), Advances in parasitic weed control at on-farm level: Joint action to control Striga in Africa (Vol. 1, pp.117-132). Margraf Publishers.

  • Kumar, J., Ramlal, A., Mallick, D., & Mishra, V. (2021). An overview of some biopesticides and their importance in plant protection for commercial acceptance. Plants, 10(6), 1185.

  • Labrada, R. (2008). Farmer training on parasitic weed management. In R. Labrada (Ed.), Progress on farmer training in parasitic weed management (pp. 1-5). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

  • Lendzemo, V. W., Kuyper, T. W., Matusova, R., Bouwmeester, H. J., & Ast, A. V. (2007). Colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi of sorghum leads to reduced germination and subsequent attachment and emergence of Striga hermonthica. Plant Signaling and Behavior, 2(1), 58–62.

  • Lo´pez-Ra´ez, J. A., Charnikhova, T., Ferna´ndez, I., Bouwmeester, H., & Pozo, M. J. (2011). Arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis decreases strigolactone production in tomato. Journal of Plant Physiology, 168(3), 294–297.

  • Massart, S., Perazzolli, M., Höfte, M., Pertot, I., & Jijakli, M. H. (2015). Impact of the omic technologies for understanding the modes of action of biological control agents against plant pathogens. Biocontrol, 60(6), 725–746.

  • Masteling, R., Lombard, L., de Boer, W., Raaijmakers, J. M., & Dini-Andreote, F. (2019). Harnessing the microbiome to control plant parasitic weeds. Current Opinion in Microbiology, 49, 26–33.

  • Meister, C. W., & Eplee, R. E. (1971). Five new fungal pathogens of witchweed (Striga lutea). Plant Disease Reporter, 55, 861-863.

  • Miché, L., Bouillant, M. L., Rohr, R., Sallé, G., & Bally, R. (2000). Physiological and cytological studies on the inhibition of Striga seed germination by the plant growth-promoting bacterium Azospirillum brasilense. European Journal of Plant Pathology, 106, 347–351.

  • Mohammadi, G. (2019). Can soil microorganisms reduce broomrape (Orobanche spp.) infestation in cropping systems?. In V. Kumar, R. Prasad, M. Kumar, & D. Choudhary (Eds.), Microbiome in plant health and disease (pp. 385–402). Springer.

  • Mounde, L. G., Anteyi, W. O., & Rasche, F. (2020). Tripartite interaction between Striga spp., cereals, and plant root-associated microorganisms: A review. CABI Reviews, 15(005), 1-17.

  • Mounde, L. G., Boh, M. Y., Cotter, M., & Rasche, F. (2015). Potential of rhizobacteria for promoting sorghum growth and suppressing Striga hermonthica development. Journal of Plant Diseases and Protection, 122, 100–106.

  • Mutuku, J. M., Cui, S., Yoshida, S., & Shirasu, K. (2021). Orobanchaceae parasite-host interactions. The New Phytologist, 230(1), 46–59.

  • Mwangangi, I. M., Büchi, L., Haefele, S. M., Bastiaans, L., Runo, S., & Rodenburg, J. (2021). Combining host plant defence with targeted nutrition: Key to durable control of hemiparasitic Striga in cereals in sub-Saharan Africa? New Phytologist, 230(6), 2164-2178.

  • Myers, J. H., & Cory, J. S. (2017). Biological control agents: Invasive species or valuable solutions? In M. Vilà & P. E. Hulme (Eds.), Impact of biological invasions on ecosystem services (Vol. 12, pp. 191-202). Springer.

  • Ndambi, B., Cadisch, G., Elzein, A., & Heller, A. (2011). Colonization and control of Striga hermonthica by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. strigae, a mycoherbicide component: An anatomical study. Biological Control, 58(2), 149-159.

  • Neondo, J. O., Alakonya, A. E., & Kasili, R. W. (2017). Screening for potential Striga hermonthica fungal and bacterial biocontrol agents from suppressive soils in Western Kenya. BioControl, 62, 705–717.

  • Nzioki, H. S., Oyosi, F., Morris, C. E., Kaya, E., Pilgeram, A. L., Baker, C. S., & Sands, D. C. (2016). Striga biocontrol on a toothpick: A readily deployable and inexpensive method for smallholder farmers. Frontiers in Plant Science, 7, 1121.

  • Okazawa, A., Samejima, H., Kitani, S., Sugimoto, Y., & Ohta, D. (2021). Germination stimulatory activity of bacterial butenolide hormones from Streptomyces albus J1074 on seeds of the root parasitic weed Orobanche minor. Journal of Pesticide Science, 46(2), 242–247.

  • Parker, C., & Riches, C. R. (1993). Parasitic weed of the world: Biology and control. CAB International.

  • Pereg, L., & McMillan, M. (2015). Scoping the potential uses of beneficial microorganisms for increasing productivity in cotton cropping systems. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 80, 349–358.

  • Rebeka, G., Shimelis, H., Laing, M.D., Tongoona, P., & Mandefro, N. (2013). Evaluation of sorghum genotypes compatibility with Fusarium oxysporum under Striga infestation. Crop Science, 53(2), 385–393.

  • Reigosa, R. M. J., Pedrol, N., & Gonzalez, L. (2006). Allelopathy: A physiological process with ecological implications. Springer.

  • Samejima, H., & Sugimoto, Y. (2018). Recent research progress in combatting root parasitic weeds. Biotechnology and Biotechnological Equipment, 32(2), 221-240.

  • Sibhatu, B. (2016). Review on Striga weed management. International Journal of Life Sciences Research, 2(2), 110-120.

  • Smith, M. C., & Webb, M. (1996). Estimation of the seedbank of Striga spp. (Scrophulariaceae) in Malian fields and the implications for a model of biocontrol of Striga hermonthica. Weed Research, 36(1), 85-92.

  • Smith, M. C., Holt, J. S., & Webb, M. (1993). Population model of the parasitic weed Striga hermonthica (Scrophulariaceae) to investigate the potential Smicronyx umbrinus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) for biological control in Mali. Crop Protection, 12(6), 470-476.

  • Stenberg, J. A., Sundh, I., Becher, P. G., Björkman, C., Dubey, M., Egan, P. A., Friberg, H., Gil, J. F., Jensen, D. F., Jonsson, M., Karlsson, M., Khalil, S., Ninkovic, V., Rehermann, G., Vetukuri, R. R., & Viketoft, M. (2021). When is it biological control? A framework of definitions, mechanisms, and classifications. Journal of Pest Science, 94(3), 665-676.

  • Taylor, A., Martin, J., & Seel, W. E. (1996). Physiology of the parasitic association between maize and witchweed (Striga hermonthica): Is ABA involved?. Journal of Experimental Botany, 47(8), 1057-1065.

  • Teka, H. B. (2014). Advance research on Striga control: A review. African Journal of Plant Science, 8(11), 492-506.

  • Uludag, A., Uremis, I., & Arslan, M. (2018). Biological weed control. In K. J. Chauhan (Ed.), Non-chemical weed control (pp. 115-132). Academic Press.

  • van Wilgen, B. W., Moran, V. C., & Hoffmann, J. H. (2013). Some perspectives on the risks and benefits of biological control of invasive alien plants in the management of natural ecosystems. Environmental Management, 52(3), 531–540.

  • Velivelli, S. L., De Vos, P., Kromann, P., Declerck, S., & Prestwich, B. D. (2014). Biological control agents: From field to market, problems, and challenges. Trends in Biotechnology, 32(10), 493-496.

  • Waruru, M. (2013). East Africa: Deadly Striga weed spreading across Eastern Africa.

  • Westwood, J. (2013). The physiology of the established parasite–host association. In D. M. Joel, J. Gressel, & L. Musselman (Eds.), Parasitic Orobanchaceae: Parasitic mechanisms and control strategies (pp. 87–114). Springer.

  • Xie, X., Yoneyama, K., & Yoneyama, K. (2010). The strigolactone story. Annual Review of Phytopathology, 48, 93–117.

  • Zummo, N., (1977). Diseases of giant witchweed, Striga hermonthica in West Africa. Plant Disease Reporter, 61(5), 428-430.

ISSN 1511-3701

e-ISSN 2231-8542

Article ID


Download Full Article PDF

Share this article

Related Articles