The “Salvia phenomenon” is one of the most famous examples of allelopathic interaction between higher plants. The Salvia thickets are surrounded by zones of bare soil (“bare zone”, 1-3 m in width), which merge into areas of inhibited grassland (“zone of inhibition”) and finally undisturbed grassland at a distance of 3-9 m. This characteristic vegetation pattern was attributed to monoterpenes, especially 1,8-cineole and camphor, which volatilized from S. leucophylla leaves, got adsorbed in the soil around the Salvia thickets, and inhibited germination and seedling growth of annual herbs. Initially, continuity of hydrophobic environment (clay soil particles â € “ cuticular waxes on the seed/seedling surfaces â € “ plasmodesmata - plasma membrane) was regarded to be important for the lipophilic compounds to enter the target cells. However, monoterpenes can reach the target cells via aqueous route as well. Because monoterpenes produced by S. leucophylla all induce similar symptoms in the seedlings of target plants, their mode of action appears to be essentially common. They exert various deteriorating effects on the cells of target plants, which might be totally explained if the primary point of action resides in mitochondrial function (respiratory ATP synthesis) and/or generation of reactive oxygen species. In contrast to the previous belief that cuticular waxes act as the pathway of lipophilic monoterpene to enter the site of action or reservoir of the inhibitors, they may act as “adsorptive barrier” to prevent the entering of monoterpenes inside the cell wall.
Keywords: Chemical behavior, cuticle layer, mode of action, monoterpenes, Salvia phenomenon, Salvia leucophylla, aromatic shrub, allelopathic interaction, higher plants, Lamiaceae
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Published on: 02 April, 2012
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