Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Effect of plant origin and phenological stage on the allelopathic activity of the invasive species Oxalis pes-caprae.

Abstract

PREMISE: Invasion processes involve several mechanisms, some of which have received little attention. Allelopathy has been invoked as an invasion driver according to the novel weapon hypothesis (NWH), and polyploidization can also be an important factor for invasion success. However, very few studies have addressed both topics together. We analyzed the allelopathic effect of the polyploid Oxalis pes-caprae, an invader in mediterranean-climate areas worldwide, from different origins and ploidy levels (native: South Africa; invaded: Chile, Australia, California, and the Mediterranean Basin) on Lactuca sativa as a model species. METHODS: We measured seed germination, initial plant height, and aboveground and belowground biomass of Lactuca grown in field soil mixed with Oxalis material and with or without activated carbon in a common garden experiment. We performed the experiment twice, when Oxalis was vigorous and when senescent. RESULTS: Vigorous plants of Oxalis tended to reduce Lactuca germination, but both vigorous and senescent Oxalis plants increased Lactuca biomass, probably due to an increase in nutrients provided by plant material. The highest increase in Lactuca traits occurred with Oxalis plants from the Iberian Peninsula. Allelopathy only happened when Oxalis was senescent and was especially strong with plants from Chile. CONCLUSIONS: Although we did not find broad evidence for the NWH considering all areas together, we reported differences in the allelopathic potential of Oxalis plants depending on their origin. These results highlight the independent evolution of invasiveness traits in distant introduced ranges and the importance of the invaders' origin when testing hypotheses about invasion drivers.