Allelopathy

Definition - What does Allelopathy mean?

Allelopathy is the process of chemical inhibition of one species by another species, where substances acting as germination or growth inhibitors are released into the environment, influencing the development and growth of nearby plants. These chemicals can originate from any part of the plant (leaves, roots, fruits, stems, flowers, etc.) and they are also present in the surrounding soil of the plants.

The chemicals present in allelopathy are known as allelopathic toxins and can intervene in shoot or root growth and nutrient uptake, or attack a naturally occurring symbiotic relationship, resulting in the destruction of the plant’s source of nutrients.


MaximumYield explains Allelopathy

Though alleopathic chemicals can occur in any part of a plant and surrounding environment, not all plants contain allelopathic chemicals, and sometimes allelopathic tendencies are just a display of aggressive competition of a non-chemical form, consequently complicating the distinction of the type of competition displayed in allelopathy.

The exposure of synthetic chemical compounds in agriculture has resulted in severe damage to the ecological balance, introducing a variety of fatal diseases. As a result, the need for sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives to plant diseases has increased. This is where plant allelopathy steps in, as it can be a good alternative to toxic chemical herbicides in weed management.

Allelopathic chemicals are also called allelochemicals and have either beneficial (positive allelopathy) or detrimental (negative allelopathy) effects on targeted plants and their surroundings. There are many biotic and abiotic factors of resources that influence the production of allelochemicals. Some biotic factors are the nutrients available, and some abiotic factors are temperature and pH levels. Consequently, resource competition (retention of nutrient, water, and light, without any type of chemical action on the surrounding plants) affects plant allelopathy and ultimately the plant's survival rate.

The majority of allelopathic plants tend to store the protective chemicals within their leaves, and as the leaves fall to the ground and decompose, the allelochemicals affect the nearby plants. There are some allelopathic plants that also release their toxins through their roots, which are in turn absorbed by other plants. Some plants with allelopathic properties are English laurel (Prunus laurocerasus), Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), Sumac (Rhus), Rhododendron Elderberry (Sambucus), Forsythia Goldenrod (Solidago), and some ferns including Perennial rye, Tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, Garlic, Mustard, Weed, etc.

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