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Science 301 (5638): 1377-1380

Copyright © 2003 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Allelopathy and Exotic Plant Invasion: From Molecules and Genes to Species Interactions

Harsh P. Bais,1 Ramarao Vepachedu,1 Simon Gilroy,2 Ragan M. Callaway,3 Jorge M. Vivanco1*

Abstract: Here we present evidence that Centaurea maculosa (spotted knapweed), an invasive species in the western United States, displaces native plant species by exuding the phytotoxin (–)-catechin from its roots. Our results show inhibition of native species' growth and germination in field soils at natural concentrations of (–)-catechin. In susceptible species such as Arabidopsis thaliana, the allelochemical triggers a wave of reactive oxygen species (ROS) initiated at the root meristem, which leads to a Ca2+ signaling cascade triggering genome-wide changes in gene expression and, ultimately, death of the root system. Our results support a "novel weapons hypothesis" for invasive success.

1 Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Cell and Molecular Biology Program, and Graduate Degree Program in Ecology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.
2 Department of Biology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.
3 Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, MO 59812, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: jvivanco{at}

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