The physiological and anatomical impact of field dodder (Cuscuta campestris Yunck.) on alfalfa and sugar beet was examined under controlled conditions. The following parameters were checked: physiological — content of pigments (chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, and carotenoids) and mineral nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and percent of organic and mineral nutrients; and anatomical — thickness of the epidermis and cortex, diameter of the stem and central cylinder of alfalfa plants, diameter of tracheids and phloem cells, area of xylem and phloem, and hydraulic conductance of petiole bundles in petiole vascular bundles of sugar beet plants. Leaf parameters were also measured on both host plants: thickness of upper and underside leaf epidermis, thickness of palisade, spongy and mesophyll tissue, and diameter of vascular bundle cells. Pigments content and anatomical parameters were measured 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, and 42 d after infestation (DAI), while mineral nutrient contents were determined 20 and 40 DAI. Field dodder caused a significant reduction in pigments content in infested alfalfa (15%–68%) and sugar beet plants (1%–54%). The results obtained in this study confirmed that this parasitic flowering plant has a strong effect on most anatomical parameters of the stem and leaf of alfalfa and leaf and petiole of sugar beet. Also, it was revealed that field dodder increased the contents of N, P2O5, K2O, and organic nutrients in infested alfalfa plants, while infested sugar beet plants had higher contents of N and organic nutrients compared with non-infested plants.
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Vol. 99 • No. 2