Ambient has become strained. Identification of Acacia dealbata Link volatiles interfering with germination and early growth of native species.
Acacia dealbata Link is a widespread invader in Mediterranean type ecosystems, and traits promoting its invasiveness are currently under investigation. Due to the dense atmosphere below its canopy, we hypothesized that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released from flowers, leaves, litter, or a mixture of treatments exert inhibitory effects on the natives Trifolium subterraneum, Lolium multiflorum, Medicago sativa, and also on its own seeds. We reported that VOCs from flowers significantly reduced germination in L. multiflorum and A. dealbata; moreover, root length, stem length, aboveground and belowground biomass were also reduced in all species studied. Volatile organic compounds from flowers and the mixture also increased significantly malondialdehyde content in T. subterraneum and L. multiflorum. The effects of VOCs on antioxidant enzymatic activities were species dependent. Flowers enhanced peroxidase but decreased superoxide dismutase activity in T. subterraneum. In contrast, VOCs released from leaves increased the activity of superoxide dismutase in L. multiflorum. GC/MS analyses revealed 27 VOCs in the volatile fraction from flowers, 12 of which were exclusive to this fraction. Within them, heptadecadiene, n-nonadecane, n-tricosane, and octadecene represent 62% of the fraction. We present evidence that the VOCs released from A. dealbata flowers strongly inhibited germination and seedling growth of selected species, and mainly on its own seedlings. As far as we know, this is the first evidence of phytotoxicity induced by VOCs in invasive species belonging to the Acacia genus.