Phytochemistry Reviews

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 227–242 | Cite as

Role of glucosinolates in plant invasiveness

  • Caroline Müller


Many plants have been intentionally or accidentally introduced to new habitats where some of them now cause major ecological and economic threats to natural and agricultural ecosystems. The potential to become invasive might depend on plant characteristics, as well as on specific interactions with other organisms acting as symbionts or antagonists, including other plants, microbes, herbivores, or pollinators. The invasion potential furthermore depends on abiotic conditions in the habitat. Several species of the Brassicaceae, well known for their glucosinolate–myrosinase defence system, are invasive species. Various factors are reviewed here that might explain why these species were so successful in colonising new areas. Specific emphasis is laid on the role of glucosinolates and their hydrolysis products in the invasion potential. This particular defence system is involved specifically in plant–plant, plant–microbe and plant–insect interactions. Most research has been done on the mechanisms underlying invasion success of Alliaria petiolata and Brassica spp., followed by Bunias orientalis and Lepidium draba. Some examples are also given for plants that are not necessarily considered as invasives, but which were well investigated with respect to their interference potential with their biotic environment. For each species, most likely a combination of different plant characteristics enhanced the competitive abilities and led to diverse invasive phenotypes.


Allelopathy Enemy release Evolution of increased competitive ability Life-history traits Plant–antagonist interactions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical EcologyUniversity of BielefeldBielefeldGermany

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