Evidence Does not Support a Role for Gallic Acid in Phragmites australis Invasion Success
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- Weidenhamer, J.D., Li, M., Allman, J. et al. J Chem Ecol (2013) 39: 323. doi:10.1007/s10886-013-0242-y
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Gallic acid has been reported to be responsible for the invasive success of nonnative genotypes of Phragmites australis in North America. We have been unable to confirm previous reports of persistent high concentrations of gallic acid in the rhizosphere of invasive P. australis, and of high concentrations of gallic acid and gallotannins in P. australis rhizomes. The half-life of gallic acid in nonsterile P. australis soil was measured by aqueous extraction of soils and found to be less than 1 day at added concentrations up to 10,000 μg g−1. Furthermore, extraction of P. australis soil collected in North Carolina showed no evidence of gallic acid, and extractions of both rhizomes and leaves of samples of four P. australis populations confirmed to be of invasive genotype show only trace amounts of gallic acid and/or gallotannins. The detection limits were less than 20 μg gallic acid g−1 FW in the rhizome samples tested, which is approximately 0.015 % of the minimum amount of gallic acid expected based on previous reports. While the occurrence of high concentrations of gallic acid and gallotannins in some local populations of P. australis cannot be ruled out, our results indicate that exudation of gallic acid by P. australis cannot be a primary, general explanation for the invasive success of this species in North America.