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Plant Physiology
Vol. 151, No: 4, 2009, Pages: 2145 - 51


Native plant and microbial contributions to a negative plant-plant interaction

Bains G, Kumar AS, Rudrappa T, Alff E, Hanson TE, Bais HP

Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware 19716, USA.

Abstract

A number of hypotheses have been suggested to explain why invasive exotic plants dramatically increase their abundance upon transport to a new range. The novel weapons hypothesis argues that phytotoxins secreted by roots of an exotic plant are more effective against na´ve resident competitors in the range being invaded. The common reed Phragmites australis has a diverse population structure including invasive populations that are noxious weeds in North America. P. australis exudes the common phenolic gallic acid, which restricts the growth of native plants. However, the pathway for free gallic acid production in soils colonized by P. australis requires further elucidation. Here, we show that exotic, invasive P. australis contain elevated levels of polymeric gallotannin relative to native, noninvasive P. australis. We hypothesized that polymeric gallotannin can be attacked by tannase, an enzymatic activity produced by native plant and microbial community members, to release gallic acid in the rhizosphere and exacerbate the noxiousness of P. australis. Native plants and microbes were found to produce high levels of tannase while invasive P. australis produced very little tannase. These results suggest that both invasive and native species participate in signaling events that initiate the execution of allelopathy potentially linking native plant and microbial biochemistry to the invasive traits of an exotic species.

Keywords:hypothesis argues that phytotoxins,Phragmites australis,phenolic gallic acid,exotic species.


 

 
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