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J Chem Ecol. 1990 Mar;16(3):645-66. doi: 10.1007/BF01016477.

Volatile seed germination inhibitors from plant residues.

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Southern Regional Research Center, USDA, ARS, P. 0. Box 19687, 70179, New Orleans, Louisiana.


Volatile emissions from residues of the winter cover legumes, Berseem clover (Trifolium alexandrinum L.), hairy vetch [Vicia hirsuta (L.) S.F. Gray], and crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.), inhibited germination and seedling development of onion, carrot, and tomato. Using GC-MS, 31 C2-C10 hydrocarbons, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, esters, furans, and monoterpenes were identified in these residue emission mixtures. Mixtures of similar compounds were found in the volatiles released by herbicide-treated aerial and root residues of purple nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus L.) and the late-season woody stems and roots of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.). Vapor-phase onion, carrot, and tomato seed germination bioassays were used to determine the time- and concentration-dependent inhibition potential of 33 compounds that were either identified in the plant residue emissions or were structurally similar to identified compounds. Cumulative results of the bioassays showed that (E)-2-hexenal was the most inhibitory volatile tested, followed by nonanal, 3-methylbutanal, and ethyl 2-methylbutyrate. All the volatile mixtures examined contained at least one compound that greatly inhibited seed germination.


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