Taking the lead toward witchweed control

  • KAUST Core Labs facilitated breakthrough in controlling parasitic plants.

    The first specific inhibitor for an uncontrollable plant pest called witchweed Striga hermonthica, has been developed at KAUST. The compound that binds to and inhibits the crucial receptor protein was identified through an interdisciplinary research collaboration led by Professors Salim Al-Babili and Stefan Arold.

    Witchweed has become one of the most serious threats to global food security. It attaches to the roots of cereal plants, stealing their water and nutrients. The parasitic plant affects more than 60 percent of farmland in sub-Saharan Africa, and is spreading around the world.

    The magnitude of its destruction led the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation to award substantial funding to Al-Babili and his team of researchers from the Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division, the Computational Bioscience Research Center and the Core Labs.

    Click here to read more.

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