Exploiting host resistance to manage the parasitic plant Striga.

– Steven Runo –


Senior Lecturer, Molecular Biology, Chairman Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology
Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya
Thika Road Nairobi Kenya. P O Box 43844 Tel: +254 727 346 496.
Email runo.steve@ku.ac.ke or smruno@gmail.com


Postdoctoral Fellow Molecular Genetics, University of Sheffield, 2010
PhD Molecular Biology, Kenyatta University/University of California, Davis, 2007
MSc Molecular Genetics, Kenyatta University, 2003
BSc Biochemistry, Kenyatta University, 1998


Tutorial Fellow, Biochemistry and Biotechnology Department, Kenyatta University, 2007 – 2009
Lecturer, Biochemistry and Biotechnology Department, Kenyatta University, 2009 – 2013
Visiting Scientist: Specialization: Genomics of Striga/Sorghum interaction, University of Virginia Charlottesville (USA), 2013-2014
Senior Lecturer, Biochemistry and Biotechnology Department, Kenyatta University, 2013 – now
Chairman of Biochemistry and Biotechnology Department, Kentyatta University, 2017 – now

Research Interest

My lab is interested in using advances in Biotechnology for mitigating abiotic and biotic constraints of food production in Africa. In particular, I am interested in a parasitic plant called Striga and how the pathogen interacts with its hosts – maize, millet, sorghum and rice. We use technologies for deciphering host-parasite interactions with the goal of food and nutritional security in Africa’s smallholder farms

Recent Publications

1. Mutinda S, Masanga J, Mutuku J, Runo S, and Alakonya A. KSTP’94, an open pollinated maize variety has post-attachment resistance to Purple Witchweed (Striga hermonthica). Article in Press Weed Science.
2. Runo S, Kuria, E. Habits of a Highly Successful Cereal Killer, Striga. PLoS Pathogens, 2018). 14(1): e1006731. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal. ppat.1006731.
3. Mbuvi, D. A., Masiga, C. W., Kuria, E., Masanga, J., Wamalwa, M., Mohamed, A., Timko, MP, Runo, S. Novel Sources of Witchweed (Striga) Resistance from Wild Sorghum Accessions. Frontiers in Plant Science, 2017 8, 271. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2017.00116
4. Kirigia D, Runo S, Alakonya A. A virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) system for functional genomics in the parasitic plant Striga hermonthica. Plant Methods 2014, 10:16.
5. Runo S, Macharia, S, Alakonya A, Machuka J, Sinha N, Scholes JD Striga parasitizes transgenic hairy roots of Zea mays and provides a tool for studying plant-plant Interactions. Plant Methods. 2012; 8:20.
6. Alakonya A, Koenig D, Kumar R, Kimura S, Townsley B, Runo S, Garces H, Kang J, Machuka J, Sinha N. “Interspecific RNAi of STM disrupts Cuscuta pentagona plant parasitism. Plant Cell 2012, 24(7):3153‐66.