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J Exp Bot. 2012 Apr;63(7):2595-604. doi: 10.1093/jxb/err436. Epub 2012 Jan 20.

Potent endogenous allelopathic compounds in Lepidium sativum seed exudate: effects on epidermal cell growth in Amaranthus caudatus seedlings.

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The Edinburgh Cell Wall Group, Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH9 3JH, UK.


Many plants exude allelochemicals--compounds that affect the growth of neighbouring plants. This study reports further studies of the reported effect of cress (Lepidium sativum) seed(ling) exudates on seedling growth in Amaranthus caudatus and Lactuca sativa. In the presence of live cress seedlings, both species grew longer hypocotyls and shorter roots than cress-free controls. The effects of cress seedlings were allelopathic and not due to competition for resources. Amaranthus seedlings grown in the presence of cress allelochemical(s) had longer, thinner hypocotyls and shorter, thicker roots--effects previously attributed to lepidimoide. The active principle was more abundant in cress seed exudate than in seedling (root) exudates. It was present in non-imbibed seeds and releasable from heat-killed seeds. Release from live seeds was biphasic, starting rapidly but then continuing gradually for 24 h. The active principle was generated by aseptic cress tissue and was not a microbial digestion product or seed-treatment chemical. Crude seed exudate affected hypocotyl and root growth at ~25 and ~450 μg ml(-1) respectively. The exudate slightly (28%) increased epidermal cell number along the length of the Amaranthus hypocotyl but increased total hypocotyl elongation by 129%; it resulted in a 26% smaller hypocotyl circumference but a 55% greater epidermal cell number counted round the circumference. Therefore, the effect of the allelochemical(s) on organ morphology was imposed primarily by regulation of cell expansion, not cell division. It is concluded that cress seeds exude endogenous substances, probably including lepidimoide, that principally regulate cell expansion in receiver plants.

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