Morphological and plant hormonal changes during parasitization by Cuscuta japonica on Momordica charantia

The holostemparasitic plant Cuscuta parasitizes various plants and sucks nutrients from the host stem. We used Cuscuta japonica as the parasite and Momordica charantia as the host plant, and described their interaction. The parasitized Momordica stems started swelling as a hypertrophic response within 3 days after parasitization. Concurrently, the Cuscuta stem grew rapidly and developed bigger scale leaves than usual. Parasitized Momordica stems reduced photosynthetic activity. Histological observation revealed no programmed cell death but an increased number of vascular bundles in the Momordica stem, especially near the Cuscuta hyphae. The defensive response of Momordica mainly involved the SA pathway. Drastic increase of tZ- and DZ-type cytokinins in Momordica stems would play an important role for hypertrophy. Cuscuta had higher cZ endogenously and our results imply that each subtype of CK might play different roles during parasitization process. Comprehensive plant hormone analysis provides new insights into plant interaction studies.