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Allelopathic interference of sweet potato with cogongrass and relevant species


Cogongrass (Imperata cylindria) is an invasive weed and harmful to ecological systems and agricultural production in many countries. It was found that plant extracts and root exudates of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) exhibit allelopathic potential and inhibit the growth of cogongrass to a greater extent than either barnyardgrass (Echinochloa crus-galli), Indian goose-grass (Eleushine indica), or lettuce (Lactuca sativa) in bioassays. Greenhouse trials indicated that sweet potato soil reduced the emergence of the noxious weed by 50 %, yet exhibited either weaker inhibition or the promotion of barnyardgrass, Bidens (Bidens pilosa), and Leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala), while the desired growth of upland rice (Oryza sativa) was not affected. In cogongrass fields, the incorporation of 1–2 tons aboveground parts and cultivation of sweet potato provided 80–85 % weed control. On the other hand, the reduction of congograss in fields may be offset by the alternate invasion of B. pilosa which multiplied its biomass by 2–6 times with sweet potato amended soils. The findings of this study indicate that sweet potato is an effective crop in the biologic management of the invasive cogongrass in agricultural fields, thus the interactive mechanism between sweet potato and the invasive weed demands further investigation. Ecologically, this study highlights the specificity of allelopathic interactions between cogongrass and sweet potato that is helpful to minimize the disturbance from infestation of this invasive weed against native species and crops.

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The authors thank Masakazu Tomomatsu for his assistance in this research. Sincere thanks are also due to the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (No. 18880020) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

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Correspondence to Tran Dang Xuan.

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Xuan, T.D., Toyama, T., Khanh, T.D. et al. Allelopathic interference of sweet potato with cogongrass and relevant species. Plant Ecol 213, 1955–1961 (2012).

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  • Allelopathy
  • Cogongrass
  • Inhibition
  • Sweet potato
  • Bidens pilosa
  • Biological control