Crabgrass' secret: The despised weed makes herbicide to kill neighboring plants

Jun 26, 2013

Contrary to popular belief, crabgrass does not thrive in lawns, gardens and farm fields by simply crowding out other plants. A new study in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has found that the much-despised weed actually produces its own herbicides that kill nearby plants.

Chui-Hua Kong and colleagues point out that crabgrass is not only a headache for lawns and home gardens, but also a major cause of on farms. Scientists long suspected, but had a hard time proving, that the weed thrived by allelopathy. From the Greek "allelo-," meaning "other," and "-pathy," meaning "suffering," allelopathy occurs when one plant restricts the growth of another by releasing toxins. They set out to determine if crabgrass has this oppressive ability.

Kong's team isolated three chemicals from crabgrass that affect the microbial communities in nearby soil and did indeed inhibit the growth of wheat, corn and soybeans. "The chemical-specific changes in [the] soil microbial community generated a negative feedback on crop growth," the scientists said, noting that the chemicals also would have a direct toxic effect on other plants.

Explore further: Genetic basis of color diversity in coral reefs discovered

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

A rare glimpse at the elusive saharan cheetah

5 hours ago

Research by scientists and conservationists from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Zoological Society of London, and other groups published today in PLOS ONE shows that critically endangered Saharan cheeta ...

Invasive species in the Great Lakes by 2063

7 hours ago

The Great Lakes have been invaded by more non-native species than any other freshwater ecosystem in the world. In spite of increasing efforts to stem the tide of invasion threats, the lakes remain vulnerable, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.