Phytotoxic substance with allelopathic activity in Brachiaria decumbens.
The grass Brachiaria decumbens becomes naturalized and quickly dominant in non-native areas. It was hypothesized that phytotoxic substances of plants may contribute to the domination and invasion of the plants. However, no potent phytotoxic substance has been reported in B. decumbens. Therefore, we searched for phytotoxic substances with allelopathic activity in this species. An aqueous methanol extract of B. decumbens inhibited the growth of roots and shoots of cress (Lepidium sativum), lettuce (Lactuca sativa), timothy (Phleum pratense) and ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) seedlings. The extract was then purified using chromatographic methods and a phytotoxic substance with allelopathic activity was isolated and identified by spectral analysis as (6R,9S)-3-oxo-α-ionol. These results suggest that this compound may contribute to the allelopathic effect caused by the B. decumbens extract and may be in part responsible for the invasion and domination of B. decumbens. Two other Brachiaria species, B. brizantha and a Brachiaria hybrid were also confirmed to contain (6R,9S)-3-oxo-α-ionol. Therefore, this compound may play an important role in the phytotoxicity of the Brachiaria species.