Biological Invasions

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 987–1003 | Cite as

Searching for Heracleum mantegazzianum allelopathy in vitro and in a garden experiment

  • Kateřina Jandová
  • Petr Dostál
  • Tomáš Cajthaml
Original Paper


One theory concerning the invasiveness of exotic plants suggests that they exude phytotoxic compounds that are novel in areas being invaded. For most invasive plants, however, little is known about the effects of their bioactive chemicals and how novel they are in invaded areas. From a methodological point of view, it also remains largely untested whether phytotoxicity found in vitro translates into allelopathic effects in more complex ecological settings. In this study, we tested for allelopathic effects of root exudates of the invasive plant Heracleum mantegazzianum (giant hogweed), its native congener Heracleum sphondylium (common hogweed) and two less-related native species. We also performed chemical analyses of the invader’s root exudates to identify bioactive compounds. We found that root exudates of H. mantegazzianum contain allelopathic compounds which are not likely to be furanocoumarins, but other as yet unidentified molecules. Allelopathy of the invader detected in vitro conditions and in our garden experiment did not, however, differ from the allelopathy of the native species tested. A meta-analysis of two independent garden experiments indicated significantly negative, though similar, phytotoxic effects of H. mantegazzianum, its native congener and Dactylis glomerata in the absence of activated carbon. Our study thus indicates that allelopathy by producing unique compounds, as predicted by the novel weapons hypothesis, is not a principal driver of the invasion success of H. mantegazzianum.


Activated carbon Germination bioassay Giant hogweed Invasive plant Novel weapons Root exudates Secondary metabolites Soil microbiota UHPLC–TOF-MS 



This study was funded by grant P504/10/0132 from the Czech Science Foundation and grant GAUK512712 from the Charles University Grant Agency. Zdeněk Kameník from the Laboratory for Biology of Secondary Metabolism, Institute of Microbiology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic carried out the LC–MS analyses. Frederick Rooks kindly improved our English. We thank Tereza Klinerová, Zdena Křesinová, Dana Parysová and Daniel Samek for their technical assistance, Lenka Moravcová for her advice during the germination experiments and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kateřina Jandová
    • 1
    • 2
  • Petr Dostál
    • 2
  • Tomáš Cajthaml
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of Science, Institute for Environmental StudiesCharles University in PraguePrague 2Czech Republic
  2. 2.Institute of BotanyAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicPrůhoniceCzech Republic
  3. 3.Institute of MicrobiologyAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicPrague 4Czech Republic

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