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Volatile organic compounds of Acacia longifolia and their effects on germination and early growth of species from invaded habitats

Souza-Alonso, Pablo, González, Luís, López-Nogueira, Antonio, Cavaleiro, Carlos, Pedrol, Nuria
Chemistry in ecology 2018 v.34 no.2 pp. 126-145
Acacia longifolia, bioassays, biodiversity, biomass, canopy, chemical composition, ecosystems, flowers, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, habitats, indigenous species, invasive species, leaves, malondialdehyde, phytotoxicity, seed germination, volatile organic compounds, Mediterranean region
Acacia longifolia, a highly invasive species that invades coastal ecosystems in Mediterranean areas, produces significant impacts at different scales. Abundant foliage and thick canopies create a dense atmosphere that led us to hypothesise that the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) could play a role in the reduction of biodiversity observed in invaded areas. Therefore, we suggested that VOCs emitted by A. longifolia could exert inhibitory effects on physiological and biochemical parameters of native species. Using glass chamber bioassays, we evaluated the effect of aerial contact between VOCs from different plant parts of A. longifolia material and some native species. Volatile chemical composition was further analysed using GC-MS. Our results indicated that VOCs produced a notably reduction of seed germination. Furthermore, volatiles from leaves and flowers significantly decreased root length, shoot length and biomass for all species. Proline and malondialdehyde content did not significantly increase after contact with VOCs. Finally, chemical profile of VOCs from flowers, leaves and litter was significantly different, both qualitatively and quantitatively. As far as we know, our results constitute the first evidence of phytotoxicity induced by VOCs from A. longifolia, suggesting that flowers and leaves could influence its surrounding environment through VOCs release.