The factors affecting a native obligate parasite, Cuscuta australis, in selecting an exotic weed, Humulus scandens, as its host

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In weed management, using native parasites to control exotic weeds is considered a better alternative than classical biological control. But the risk must be assessed because of the potential damage caused by these agents. We conducted this project to investigate the mechanism driving the choice of a native obligate parasite, Cuscuta australis, between the exotic, Humulus scandens, and native plants as its host through field and pot experiments. The results showed that C. australis preferred the exotic weed over native (naturalized) hosts and caused a notable reduction in the biomass of H. scandens in the field. In contrast, the results of the pot experimentindicated that C. australis preferred a mix of native (naturalized) hosts over the exotic weed. Both texperiments indicated that the parasitic preference of C. australis was induced more by light irradiance than plant water, carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) contents, indicating that the native parasite can only be used to control H. scandens when the exotic weed forms mono-cultures or dominates the community. Accordingly, induction and release of C. australis to control H. scandens should be conducted with great caution.


  • Ai Ping Wu
  • Wen Zhong
  • Jin Rui Yuan
  • Liang Yu Qi
  • Fa Lin Chen
  • Yun Shan Liang
  • Fei Fei He
  • Yan Hong Wang
External organisations
  • Hunan Agricultural University
  • Yunnan University
  • Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
Original languageEnglish
Article number511
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jan 24
Publication categoryResearch