Unravelling the bioherbicide potential of Eucalyptus globulus Labill: Biochemistry and effects of its aqueous extract
UNIVERSAL IDENTIFIER: http://hdl.handle.net/11093/3712
EDITED VERSION: https://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192872
UNESCO SUBJECT: 2417 Biología Vegetal (Botánica)
DOCUMENT TYPE: article
In the worldwide search for new strategies in sustainable weed management, the use of plant species able to produce and release phytotoxic compounds into the environment could be an effective alternative to synthetic herbicides. Eucalyptus globulus Labill. is known to be a source of biologically active compounds responsible for its phytotoxic and allelopathic properties. Our previous results demonstrated the bioherbicide potential of eucalyptus leaves incorporated into the soil as a green manure, probably through the release of phytotoxins into the soil solution. Thus, the aims of this study were to understand the phytotoxicity of the eucalyptus leaves aqueous extract applied in pre- and post-emergence, and to identify and quantify its potentially phytotoxic water-soluble compounds. The effects were tested on the germination and early growth of the model target species Lactuca sativa and Agrostis stolonifera, and on physiological parameters of L. sativa adult plants after watering or spraying application. Dose-response curves and ED50 and ED80 values for eucalyptus aqueous extracts revealed pre-emergence inhibitory effects on both target species, effects being comparable to the herbicide metolachlor. While spraying treatment reduced the aerial and root biomass and increased the dry weight/fresh weight ratio of lettuce adult plants, watering application reduced protein contents and chlorophyll concentrations with respect to control, reflecting different modes of action depending on the site of phytotoxin entry. Via HPLC analyses, a total of 8 phenolic compounds (chlorogenic, two ρ-coumaric derivatives, ellagic, hyperoside, rutin, quercitrin, and kaempferol 3-O-glucoside) and other 5 low weight organic acids (citric, malic, shikimic, succinic and fumaric acids) were obtained from aqueous extract, the latter being identified for the first time in E. globulus. Despite some phytotoxic effects were found on lettuce adult plants, the use of eucalyptus aqueous extract would be discarded in post-emergence, whereas it was promising as a pre-emergence bioherbicide.
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