Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Allelopathy is pervasive in invasive plants.

Abstract

Invasive species utilize a wide array of trait strategies to establish in novel ecosystems. Among these traits is the capacity to produce allelopathic compounds that can directly inhibit neighboring native plants or indirectly suppress native plants via disruption of beneficial belowground microbial mutualisms, or altered soil resources. Despite the well-known prevalence of allelopathy among plant taxa, the pervasiveness of allelopathy among invasive plants is unknown. Here we demonstrate that the majority of the 524 invasive plant species in our database produce allelochemicals with the potential to negatively affect native plant performance. Moreover, allelopathy is widespread across the plant phylogeny, suggesting that allelopathy could have a large impact on native species across the globe. Allelopathic impacts of invasive species are often thought to be present in only a few plant clades (e.g., Brassicaceae). Yet our analysis shows that allelopathy is present in 72% of the 113 plant families surveyed, suggesting that this ubiquitous mechanism of invasion deserves more attention as invasion rates increase across the globe.