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Research Letters in Ecology
Volume 2007 (2007), Article ID 84234, 4 pages
Research Letter

Host Specificity in the Parasitic Plant Cytinus hypocistis

School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK

Received 2 September 2007; Accepted 14 December 2007

Academic Editor: John J. Wiens

Copyright © 2007 C. J. Thorogood and S. J. Hiscock. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Host specificity in the parasitic plant Cytinus hypocistis was quantified at four sites in the Algarve region of Portugal from 2002 to 2007. The parasite was found to be locally host specific, and only two hosts were consistently infected: Halimium halimifolium and Cistus monspeliensis. C. hypocistis did not infect hosts in proportion to their abundance; at three sites, 100% of parasites occurred on H. halimifolium which represented just 42.4%, 3% and 19.7% of potential hosts available, respectively. At the remaining site, where H. halimifolium was absent, 100% of parasites occurred on C. monspeliensis which represented 81.1% of potential hosts available. Other species of potential host were consistently uninfected irrespective of their abundance. Ecological niche divergence of host plants H. halimifolium and C. monspeliensis may isolate host-specific races of C. hypocistis, thereby potentially driving allopatric divergence in this parasitic plant.