Allelopathy of knot weeds as invasive plants.
Perennial herbaceous Fallopia is native to East Asia, and was introduced to Europe and North America in the 19th century as an ornamental plant. Fallopia has been spreading quickly and has naturalized in many countries. It is listed in the world's 100 worst alien species. Fallopia often forms dense monospecies stands through the interruption of the regeneration process of indigenous plant species. Allelopathy of Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), giant knotweed (Fallopia sachalinensis), and Bohemian knotweed (Fallopia × bohemica) has been reported to play an essential role in its invasion. The exudate from their roots and/or rhizomes, and their plant residues inhibited the germination and growth of some other plant species. These knotweeds, which are non-mycorrhizal plants, also suppressed the abundance and species richness of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in the rhizosphere soil. Such suppression was critical for most territorial plants to form the mutualism with AMF, which enhances the nutrient and water uptake, and the tolerance against pathogens and stress conditions. Several allelochemicals such as flavanols, stilbenes, and quinones were identified in the extracts, residues, and rhizosphere soil of the knotweeds. The accumulated evidence suggests that some of those allelochemicals in knotweeds may be released into the rhizosphere soil through the decomposition process of their plant parts, and the exudation from their rhizomes and roots. Those allelochemicals may inhibit the germination and growth of native plants, and suppress the mycorrhizal colonization of native plants, which provides the knotweeds with a competitive advantage, and interrupts the regeneration processes of native plants. Therefore, allelopathy of knotweeds may contribute to establishing their new habitats in the introduced ranges as invasive plant species. It is the first review article focusing on the allelopathy of knotweeds.