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Science. 2003 Sep 5;301(5638):1377-80.

Allelopathy and exotic plant invasion: from molecules and genes to species interactions.

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  • 1Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Cell and Molecular Biology Program, and Graduate Degree Program in Ecology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.

Erratum in

  • Science. 2010 Feb 12;327(5967):781.


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.

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