Allelopathy and plant invasions: Traditional, congeneric, and bio-geographical approaches

Inderjit, Timothy R. Seastedt, Ragan M. Callaway, Jarrod L. Pollock, Jasleen Kaur

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126 Scopus citations


A relatively small subset of exotic plant species competitively exclude their neighbors in invaded "recipient" communities but coexist with neighbors in their native habitat. Allelopathy has been argued as one of the mechanisms by which such exotics may become successful invaders. Three approaches have been used to examine allelopathy as a mechanism for invasion. The traditional approach examines exotic invasives in the same way that other native plants also suspected of allelopathic activities are studied. In this approach dose, fate, and replenishment of chemicals can provide powerful evidence for allelopathic processes. The bio-geographical approach often does not provide as much mechanistic evidence for allelopathy, but comparing the allelopathic effects of exotic invasives on species from their native and invaded communities yields stronger evidence than the traditional approach for whether or not allelopathy actually contributes to invasive success. The congeneric, or phylogenetic, approach involves comparative studies of exotic species with natives in the same genus or that are as closely related as possible. Congeneric approaches are limited in inference and have been used to study the role of natural enemies in exotic invasion, but this approach has not been widely used to study allelopathy and invasion. We discuss these three approaches and present a data set for congeneric Lantana and Prosopis to illustrate how the congeneric approach can be used, and use Centaurea maculosa and (±)-catechin to demonstrate experimentally how traditional and bio-geographic approaches can be integrated to shed light on allelopathy in exotic plant invasions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)875-890
Number of pages16
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Allelopathy
  • Bio-geographical approach
  • Catechin
  • Congeneric approach
  • Novel weapons hypothesis
  • Traditional approach


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