e-Science : Oct 2016 Issue 18
SNOTTY GOBBLING WEEDS RESOURCES Click for slideshow Snotty gobble Snotty gobble or Cassytha pubescens (Cassytha for short) is one such parasitic plant. It’s more commonly known by its nickname “snotty gobble” because its little green berry fruits are covered in a mucous-like substance. Yuck, right?! Cassytha is found in all Australian states except Western Australia and the Northern Territory, and is a stem parasite that loses its roots at the seedling stage. So unlike mistletoes, Cassytha germinates in the soil and not on the host plant. It is a parasitic vine that coils around and latches onto stems of other plants close-by and then sucks out their water and nutrients so it can survive. Our lab is looking into using Cassytha to control weeds. So far our research has shown that Cassytha kills weeds but not the native shrubs studied. This is likely due to the fangs of Cassytha piercing the stem of weeds much better than native plants. The end result is that Cassytha sucks out much more water and nutrients from the weeds, which then go onto to die. The reason why Cassytha’s suckers don’t work that well on native plants may be because Cassytha is also Australian. In other words Cassytha being a native has likely co-evolved with other native plants which over time have built up defences against Cassytha.
May 2016 Issue 17