African Journal of
Plant Science

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Plant Sci.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0824
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPS
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 805

Article in Press

Infestation dynamics of mistletoes in urban and rural landscapes of semi-arid Botswana

Mpho Granny Batlhophi, Tebogo Selebatso, Keoikantse Sianga, Mpho Rinah Setlalekgomo, Boipuso Legwatagwata, Ross N. Cuthbert and Mmabaledi Buxton

  •  Received: 14 March 2024
  •  Accepted: 15 May 2024
The available information regarding mistletoes inadequately explains the dynamic facets of infestation in rural-urban gradients. This study was carried out to compare the abundance of mistletoe species on hosts between urban (Gaborone and Gakuto) and rural (Lentsweletau and Oodi) areas of Botswana. Four plots each with a surface area of 625 m2 were established in the respective study areas and from which mistletoe-bearing hosts were examined. Ten indigenous host plant species from six families were found infested with four parasitic plants, Erianthemum virescens, Plicosepalus kalachariensis, Viscum rotundifolium, and Viscum verrucosum. Urban areas had more infested hosts, with P. kalachariensis dominating. V. rotundifolium parasitic plant-associated infections were primarily rural-based. More infestation was skewed toward Vachellia host species. Mistletoes from two different families could parasitise a single host. Pairwise comparison tests suggested significant differences in hosts infested by E. virescens relative to V. verrucosum, V. rotundifolium, and P. kalachariensis respectively. The findings provide baseline information documenting parasitism in host species in varied landscapes. Further studies may explore latching mechanisms across host species, bio-physical parameters that enhance infestation, parasite-host diversity, and distribution owing to the infestation potential of the species.

Keywords: host, indigenous plants, land use, mistletoe-infections, parasitism