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Parasitic Plant found in Nicobar

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    8th Feb, 2022

Context

A new genus of a parasitic flowering plant (Septemeranthus) has recently been discovered from the Nicobar group of islands.

About

What is Parasitic plant?

  • Parasitic plants produce root-like structures called haustoria which penetrate the host, connect to its vasculature and facilitate the exchange of materials such as water, nutrients, and pathogens between the host and the parasite, and between any plants simultaneously parasitized, even unrelated plant species.

Key-highlights of the discovery

  • The genus Septemeranthus grows on the plant species Horsfieldiaglabra (Blume) Warb.
  • The parasitic flowering plants have a modified root structure spread on the stem of the tree and are anchored inside the bark of the host tree.
  • The plant was found on the periphery of the tropical forest in one of the biodiversity hotspots referred to as the Nicobar group of islands separated from the Andaman group of Islands by a wide gap of 160 km with heavy tidal flows.
  • Septemeranthus partially depends on its host but also has leaves capable of photosynthesis.
  • In addition to Septemeranthus, four other genera have also been discovered earlier from Nicobar group of islands, highlighting the ecological significance of the region on non-parasitic plants-
    • Nicobariodendron (Hippocrateaceae)
    • Pseudodiplospora (Rubiaceae),
    • Pubistylis  (Rubiaceae),
    • Sphyranthera  (Euphorbiaceae)

Recently a new species in the hemiparasitic family Loranthaceae, Dendrophthoelaljii have also been discovered from the Nicobar group of islands.

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