A molecular approach to understanding plant-plant interactions in the context of invasion biology

Amanda K. Broz, Daniel K. Manter, Ragan M. Callaway, Mark W. Paschke, Jorge M. Vivanco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Competition is a major determinant of plant community structure, and can influence the size and reproductive fitness of a species. Therefore, competitive responses may arise from alterations in gene expression and plant function when an individual is confronted with new competitors. This study explored competition at the level of gene expression by hybridising transcripts from Centaurea maculosa Lam., one of North America's most invasive exotic plant species, to an Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh microarray chip. Centaurea was grown in competition with Festuca idahoensis Elmer, a native species that generally has weak competitive effects against Centaurea; Gaillardia aristata Pursh, a native species that tends to be a much stronger competitor against Centaurea; and alone (control). Some transcripts were induced or repressed to a similar extent regardless of the plant neighbour grown with Centaurea. Other transcripts showed differential expression that was specific to the competitor species, possibly indicating a species-specific aspect of the competitive response of Centaurea. These results are the first to identify genes in an invasive plant that are induced or repressed by plant neighbours and provide a new avenue of insight into the molecular aspects of plant competitive ability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1123-1134
Number of pages12
JournalFunctional Plant Biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2008


  • Centaurea maculosa Lam.
  • Cross-species hybridisation
  • Invasive weed
  • Knapweed
  • Microarray
  • Plant competition


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