Chemical composition and phytotoxicity of essential oil from invasive plant, Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.
Essential oils have been evaluated as appropriate phytotoxins with mechanisms of action that are different from those of synthetic herbicides applied in weed management activities, but little is known about the effect of Ambrosia artemisiifolia essential oil (EO) on weeds. Here, the chemical composition of A. artemisiifolia EO was analyzed using a Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry system. and the phytotoxic activities of the EO against monocot (Poa annua, Setaria viridis) and dicot (Amaranthus retroflexus, Medicago sativa) species are evaluated under laboratory and green-house conditions for the first time. The EO was rich in sesquiterpenes (62.51%), with germacrene D (32.92%), β-pinene (15.14%), limonene (9.90%), and caryophyllene (4.49%) being the major compounds based on Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry analysis results. A. artemisiifolia EO inhibited seed germination and seedling development significantly in the tested species even at low concentrations (0.25 mg mL-1). In addition, bioassay results for the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and peroxidase (POD) increased and then decreased with an increase in EO concentration. Unlike the enzymatic activity, root cell viability declined significantly in the tested weeds in all EO treatments. Besides, a foliar spray experiment resulted in visible injury in leaves and a decrease in chlorophyll content and eventually led to wilting of all tested weeds. The EO (0.25-5.00 mg mL-1) altered Allium cepa root tip cells with a decline in mitotic index and an increase in chromosomal aberrations after 24 h treatment. The cytotoxic evaluation confirmed the mitotic inhibitory effect of EO, although the intensity varied under different concentrations. According to the results, A. artemisiifolia EO has the potential applications as a natural herbicide owing to its phytotoxic activity; which also helps to explain their potential involvement in allelopathic interaction of volatile compounds present in the EO that facilitate the invasion success of the exotic species.