Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 55–65 | Cite as

Highly potent germination inhibitors in aqueous eluate of fruits of Bishop's weed (Ammi majus L.) and avoidance of autoinhibition

  • Jacob Friedman
  • Edna Rushkin
  • George R. Waller


The aqueous eluate from fruits ofAmmi majus (Bishop's weed, Umbelliferae) remarkably inhibited germination of adjacent seeds ofAnastatica hierochuntica, lettuce, or tomato but had no effect on intact fruits ofAmmi. Similar inhibition was found in dark or in light, except that seeds ofA. hierochuntica were significantly more inhibited in the dark than in the light. Xanthotoxin was isolated, identified, and found to account for about a sixth of the inhibitory activity of the eluate. After fruits ofAmmi were submerged in a large volume of water for 4 days, the fruits still exuded enough inhibitors to prevent germination ofA. hierochuntica, lettuce, or tomato. Data support also the proposal that the phytotoxins are compartmentalized between the inner and the outer fruit envelopes. The inner layer excludes inhibitors from the embryo and autotoxicity is thus avoided, whereas the outer one ensures a gradual liberation of the phytotoxic compounds. This, as well as the high reactivity of the eluate, the high densities ofAmmi fruits in nature, and their relatively limited annual germination, suggest chemical inhibition of neighboring plant species other thanAmmi. Hence, in addition to their chemical protection against predators of either lower or higher organisms, furanocoumarins in fruits ofAmmi majus may contribute to its success as a weed.

Key words

Ammi majus Bishop's weed germination inhibitors xanthotoxin furanocoumarins avoidance of autotoxicity allelopathy 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacob Friedman
    • 1
  • Edna Rushkin
    • 1
  • George R. Waller
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Botany, The Dr. George S. Wise Faculty of Life SciencesTel-Aviv UniversityTel-AvivIsrael
  2. 2.Department of BiochemistryOklahoma State UniversityStillwater

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