Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 1707–1718 | Cite as

Isolation and characterization of phytotoxic compounds from asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) roots

  • A. C. Hartung
  • M. G. Nair
  • A. R. Putnam


Potential allelochemicals from aqueous extracts of dried asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) roots were isolated and characterized. Active fractions separated by HPLC included ferulic, isoferulic, malic, citric, and fumaric acids. Soxhlet extraction of the residues also produced phytotoxic caffeic acid. Although none of these compounds, when applied singly, was active enough to account for the phytotoxicity of asparagus extracts, their combined effect might be additive or synergistic. An extract from lyophilized fresh root tissues contained a fraction that was one order of magnitude more toxic than any compound obtained from the dried roots. The most active component was isolated by TLC and characterized by [1H]NMR as methylenedioxycinnamic acid (MDCA). This compound provided severe inhibition of curly cress (Lepidium sativum L.) root and shoot growth at concentrations of 25 ppm or above.

Key Words

Allelopathy asparagusic acid autotoxicity phytotoxicity caffeic and citric acid ferulic acid fumaric acid isoferulic acid malic acid methylenedioxycinnamic acid asparagus 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. C. Hartung
    • 1
  • M. G. Nair
    • 1
  • A. R. Putnam
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Horticulture and Pesticide Research CenterMichigan State UniversityEast Lansing

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