No evidence for root-mediated allelopathy in Centaurea solstitialis, a species in a commonly allelopathic genus

Bo Qin, Jennifer A. Lau, Joseph Kopshever, Ragan M. Callaway, Heather McGray, Laura G. Perry, Tiffany L. Weir, Mark W. Paschke, Jose L. Hierro, John Yoder, Jorge M. Vivanco, Sharon Strauss

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16 Scopus citations


Phytotoxicity bioassays and pot experiments using activated carbon both suggest that Centaurea solstitialis (yellow star-thistle) does not rely on phytotoxic root exudates for invasion of California grasslands. Pot experiments in which five native species were grown in the presence/absence of C. solstitialis and in the presence/absence of activated carbon (fully crossed design) showed that C. solstitialis competitively suppressed native species, but did not inhibit them through allelochemicals. In separate experiments examining the role of root exudates in invasion success, treatment with crude root exudates and chloroform-extracted root exudates from C. solstitialis reduced growth of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. However, high concentrations of the exudates (50%, v/v or 500 μg mL-1) were required to inhibit A. thaliana growth and did not result in A. thaliana mortality, suggesting the presence of only a weak growth inhibitor. Moreover, high concentrations of C. solstitialis crude root exudates did not affect the growth of five native grass species often displaced by C. solstitialis invasions in California grasslands. Finally, root exudates collected from C. solstitialis had weaker effects on a native California root parasite, Triphysaria versicolor, than root exudates collected from Zea mays, a species not renowned for its competitive or invasive capabilities. Our results suggest that, while C. solstitialis might possibly "be persuaded to yield a product that is toxic to one species or another" (Population biology of plants, Academic, 1977), we find no evidence that allelopathic root exudates play a role in the competitive success of this invasive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)897-907
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Activated carbon
  • Allelopathy
  • Centaurea
  • Competition
  • Exudates
  • Invasion


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