Phytotoxic activity of caulerpenyne from the Mediterranean invasive variety of Caulerpa racemosa: a potential allelochemical
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- Raniello, R., Mollo, E., Lorenti, M. et al. Biol Invasions (2007) 9: 361. doi:10.1007/s10530-006-9044-2
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Allelopathy has been postulated as a factor in the colonisation success of Caulerpa racemosa var. cylindracea, an introduced chlorophyte alga which has become invasive in the Mediterranean Sea. In order to reveal their possible phytotoxic activity, secondary metabolites were isolated from a population growing in the Gulf of Naples (Italy) and tested on leaf tissue of the native seagrass Cymodocea nodosa, which often co-occurs with Caulerpa in nature. The seaweed metabolites were identified by 1H and 13C NMR analysis and leaf portions of C. nodosa were exposed to crude diethyl ether extract and purified compounds in the laboratory, under controlled conditions of irradiance and temperature for a period of 144 h. Eventual changes in the photosynthetic performance of the seagrass tissue following the treatment were tested by monitoring its optimal quantum yield with a pulse amplitude modulated (PAM) fluorometer. One of the identified compounds, caulerpenyne, showed a phytotoxic effect, while the other purified metabolites did not reveal any effect at the assayed concentrations. Thus, our results seem to suggest a possible allelopathic activity of caulerpenyne, which may play a role in the successful competition of the invasive C. racemosa var. cylindracea with native macrophytes, such as seagrasses.