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Lytton John Musselman, the Mary Payne Hogan Professor of Botany and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Old Dominion University, was one of the organizers of the 9th World Congress on Parasitic Plants held during the first week of June in Charlottesville.

Scientists and other specialists from 25 countries attended the meeting to exchange findings and ideas on topics such as management of parasitic weeds, which are a significant drag on agricultural food supplies in some parts of the world.

The parasitic plant most familiar to Virginians is mistletoe, noted Musselman. "But in some parts of the world, especially the semi-arid tropics and in particular sub-Saharan Africa, these plants wreak havoc on subsistence crops and cause suffering to millions of people. Accordingly, research to understand the biology of parasitism is linked to effective control under the harsh conditions of subsistence farming in dry areas."

Among the presenters at the Congress was ODU doctoral student Jay Bolin, whose research is on the root holoparasite Hydnora in Southern Africa.

The congress in Charlottesville was the ninth in a series of meetings started in 1973 in Malta. Musselman has been involved since the inception, and in addition to his role this year as co-organizer, he served on the scientific advisory committee. He also is an editor of the Haustorium newsletter of the International Parasitic Plant Society, which was a main sponsor of the congress.

Other sponsors included ODU, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, United States Agency International Development, and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.

This article was posted on: June 12, 2007

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