The sub-Saharan Africa region is currently facing a huge threat from Striga hermonthica, commonly known as purple witchweed. It is an invasive parasitic plant that has affected a number of plantations in Africa. As per the current study, it is assumed that the microorganism can destroy almost 40% of the staple crops and cause a loss equal to about $7–10 Billion which directly affects the livelihood and food supplies of approximately 300 Million people at risk.
One of the important drawbacks is that it has an Achilles’ heel that is a tiny parasite gluing to the roots of other plants. The parasite needs a host for survival and in its absence perishes; thus, the scientists are now exploiting the virus so as to help the farmers by eliminating it completely. According to Professor Salim Al-Babili from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and his team, they have found a means of tricking the parasite into believing that there is a host plant thriving nearby. The Striga seeds germinate if the conditions are right but in the absence of host eventually die. The researchers basically set their eyes on the plant hormone named strigolactones that are given out by the roots of the plants. The Striga seeds tend to germinate due to the presence of these hormones and thus by switching them with artificial strigolactones was found to help lower the number of Striga plants to almost half the number.
As per the scientists’ solution, during the time of crop rotation, these artificial hormones can be applied to the crops fields without the requirement of any additional water as the rainfall itself is sufficient. The water-scarce region definitely benefits from this treatment. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided the Researcher Al-Babili with a reward of $5 Million so as develop a worldwide solution for the Striga problem. The farmers can now combat the invasive Striga plant emergence and protect tons of food by giving a total food security guarantee for the people in Africa. In order to help cope with the increasing food demands the researchers from the Penn State and the University of Alabama have developed a new method of spinning starch fibers using Lego pieces for futuristic applications including lab-grown clean meat generation for the billions of populace across the globe. The food security of the people is guaranteed to be maintained and satisfied.