Allelopathy can be defined as an important mechanism of plant interference mediated by the addition of plant-produced secondary products to the soil rhizosphere. Allelochemicals are present in all types of plants and tissues and are released into the soil rhizosphere by a variety of mechanisms, including decomposition of residues, volatilization and root exudation. Allelochemical structures and modes of action are diverse, and may offer potential for development of future herbicides. In the past, allelopathy was described by the Romans as a process resulting in the “sickening” of the soil; in particular, chickpea (Cicer arietinum) was described as problematic when successively cropped with other species. Other early plant scientists, such as De Candolle in the 1800s, first described the ability of plant roots to produce toxic exudates. More recently, research has focused on development of weed management strategies using allelopathic crop residues, mechanism of allelochemical action, and gene regulation of allelochemical production. This paper briefly describes a variety of weed and crop species that establishes some form of potent allelopathic interference, either with other crops or weeds, in agricultural settings, in the managed landscape, or in naturalized settings. Recent research suggests that allelopathic properties can render one species more invasive to native species and thus potentially detrimental to both agricultural and naturalized settings. In contrast, allelopathic crops offer strong potential for the development of cultivars that are more highly weed suppressive in managed settings. A new challenge that exists for plant scientists is to generate additional information on allelochemical mechanisms of release, selectivity and persistence, mode of action, and genetic regulation. Armed with this specific information, we can further protect plant biodiversity and enhance weed management strategies in a variety of ecosystems.
The term allelopathy was introduced by Molisch (22) in 1937, and refers to all biochemical interactions (stimulatory and inhibitory) among plants, including microorganisms. The fact that the term is literally translated as “mutual harm or suffering” has probably led to other interpretations and confusion. Several scientists have suggested narrowing the definition to include only higher plants and harmful interactions. Rice (38) defined allelopathy in his first edition to include only harmful effects, but he recently opted to restate Molisch's premise in his 2nd edition (39). Molisch's broad definition of allelopathy is probably appropriate because considerable research has indicated that involvement of microorganisms and lower plants in phytotoxin production. Also, natural compounds that inhibit growth at certain concentrations often enhance growth at lower concentrations.
Cyperuskyllingia and Cyperusbrevifolius are problematic turfgrass weeds in Hawaii. Both are closely related weed species with similar morphology and growth characteristics. C. kyllingia appears to be a more successful weed with regards to interference than C. brevifolius. Greenhouse experiments were conducted to compare the levels of interference exerted by C. kyllingia and C. brevifolius upon Cynodondactylon turfgrass. C. kyllingia reduced the growth of C. dactylon by about 50 %, while C. brevifolius did not significantly reduce C. dactylon growth. These results correspond with the chemical profiles of C. kyllingia and C. brevifolius. Analysis has shown that C. kyllingia contains two sesquiterpenes which have been identified as potentially allelopathic components of Cyperusrotundus. C. brevifolius contains waxes and the two sesquiterpenes found in C. kyllingia are absent. This suggests that allelopathy may be the mechanism responsible for the different levels of interference exhibited by C. kyllingia and C. brevifolius, and these species may provide an important model for the study of allelopathy.
Allelopathy is broadly defined as the “biochemical interactions between all types of plants, including microorganisms” ( Rice 1984 ). Although the term is used most often in a negative context to describe inhibitory effects, the general concept of
ability (e.g., pathogenic bacteria, fungi, and nematodes), and the number of beneficial microbes decreases, thus affecting the normal growth of crops and causing yield reductions. The use of reasonable cropping systems and the employment of allelopathy
by competing with weeds for available resources and by promoting conditions that are unfavorable for weed germination and establishment ( Teasdale, 1998 ). The latter mechanism includes allelopathy, which is the inhibitory or stimulatory effect of a
Over the last century, climate change, adoption of new regulations, and changes in cropping systems have significantly impacted weed and pest management in horticultural crops. The objective of this workshop was to provide a critical review of major changes and discuss current and future trends for weed and pest management. Speakers touched on a broad range of topics including climate change and disease dynamics, the use of disease resistance inducers, soil management for pest management, and the role of allelopathy in weed management. Major recommendations included 1) increased grower education related to the impact of climate change on plant diseases; 2) more research directed towards a better understanding of the interaction of plant–pathogen–inducer; 3) use of organic soil amendments, cover crops, crop rotations, and resistant cultivars to enhance the weed and disease suppressive effect of soils; and 4) enhancement of allelochemical production and subsequent weed suppression through conventional breeding and molecular techniques.
Observations that tomato transplants died or were severely stunted when set into unincorporated sorghum-sudan hybrid surface mulch led us to further investigate the potential allelopathic impacts of this warm-season cover crop in a series of field experiments. Survival and dry weights of tomato, lettuce, and broccoli transplants were determined in fallow, incorporated sorghum-sudan-, and unincorporated sorghum-sudan-mulched soils. All three species transplanted into plots in which the sorghum-sudan had been cut and left on the soil surface had a significantly lower dry weight than plants transplanted into fallow soil or into soil where the sorghum-sudan had been incorporated. Additionally, fewer transplants survived in the mulch treatment. The surface mulch plots also significantly reduced weed biomass nearly 10-fold. We believe that a water-soluble compound that is leached out of the sorghum-sudan hybrid is toxic to all three of the plants tested. Further laboratory and greenhouse tests are under way to determine the exact nature of the toxic substance.
Little research has been conducted to quantify allelopathic suppression of weeds in the field. The objectives of this study were to develop an adequate control for separating physical from allelochemical effects, use the control to quantify allelochemical suppression in the field, and determine whether a mixture of cover crops would provide a broader spectrum of weed control than single species. Hairy vetch, rye, crimson clover, and barley were cut into 5-cm pieces, shaken in distilled water (pH 6) to leach allelochemicals, and redried. A seed germination bioassay confirmed that leached cover crops were nontoxic to germinating seeds. Physical suppression of Eastern black nightshade by the four cover crop species occurred in the field study, as did allelochemical suppression by crimson clover. Only rye physically suppressed yellow foxtail, and none of the cover crops suppressed yellow foxtail allelochemically.
Winter-killed oats (Avena sativa) may have potential for use to suppress weeds in early seeded crops such as pea (Pisum sativum). Residue biomass and surface coverage are generally correlated with weed suppression. Oat residues also contain allelochemicals. Our objective was to determine if oat cultivars vary in residue production and allelopathy. Differences between oat cultivars were observed in residue production, and for effects on emergence of common lambsquarters (Chenopodium album) and shepherd's-purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) in the greenhouse, and germination of pea and common lambsquarters in an infusion assay. Two of the oat cultivars producing the greatest biomass, `Blaze' (in the field) and `Classic' (in the greenhouse), interfered minimally with pea germination and were among the best cultivars in inhibiting common lambsquarters and shepherd's-purse. `Blaze' also greatly inhibited common lambsquarters germination in the infusion assay that measured allelopathy. Thus, `Blaze' and `Classic' possess suitable characteristics for use as a cover crop preceding peas.