Plant and Soil

, Volume 298, Issue 1–2, pp 113–124 | Cite as

Seed germination of agricultural weeds is promoted by the butenolide 3-methyl-2H-furo[2,3-c]pyran-2-one under laboratory and field conditions

  • J. C. StevensEmail author
  • D. J. Merritt
  • G. R. Flematti
  • E. L. Ghisalberti
  • K. W. Dixon
Regular Article


Here we report that a synthesised form of a naturally occurring chemical (a butenolide, 3-methyl-2H-furo[2,3-c]pyran-2-one) found in smoke can stimulate seedling emergence of the economically important weed species Avena fatua L. (Poaceae), Arctotheca calendula (L.) Levyns (Asteraceae), Brassica tournefortii Gouan (Brassicaceae), and Raphanus raphanistrum L. (Brassicaceae) under field conditions at rates equivalent to 2–20 g/ha a.i. The butenolide also stimulates germination of freshly collected seeds from wild populations of these species, as well as those of Sisymbrium orientale L. (Brassicaceae), Hordeum leporinum Link (Poaceae) and Echium plantagineum L. (Boraginaceae) under laboratory conditions, consistently greater than that of smoke water. Experiments using B. tournefortii seeds collected from several locations across Western Australia and in different growing seasons found that these factors significantly influence the butenolide response, implying a role of the maternal environment in seed germination/dormancy characteristics. This research highlights the potential of butenolide as an agent for broad acre weed control and land restoration.


Agricultural weeds Brassicaceae Butenolide Seed dormancy Seed germination Smoke Soil seed bank 



This research was partly supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation, Australia (BGP00001, JCS), the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Projects funding scheme (DP0559058, GRF) and Linkage Projects funding scheme (LP0455415, DJM). The authors also wish to thank HH and JM Maitland and Son (Wyalkatchem) Mr. R. Monger (York), Mr. E. Ailing (York) and the Department of Food and Agriculture Western Australia (Beverly) for providing access to field sites and their assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. C. Stevens
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • D. J. Merritt
    • 1
    • 2
  • G. R. Flematti
    • 3
  • E. L. Ghisalberti
    • 3
  • K. W. Dixon
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Kings Park and Botanic GardenWest PerthAustralia
  2. 2.School of Plant Biology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural SciencesThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  3. 3.School of Biomedical, Biomolecular and Chemical SciencesThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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