Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 1371–1383 | Cite as

Effects of soil nitrogen level on ferulic acid inhibition of cucumber leaf expansion

  • Kristofer Klein
  • Udo Blum


It has been suggested that the allelopathic activity of phenolic acids should be primarily important in soils of low fertility. If this is true, then plant growth inhibition by phenolic acids may be unimportant in managed agricultural soils. The objective of this study was to determine how soil nitrogen (N) level might modify phenolic acid inhibition of growth. Cucumber seedlings (Cucumis sativus cv Early Green Cluster) grown in containers in growth chambers under varying N levels (5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 μg N/g soil) in Portsmouth B,-horizon soil material were treated with ferulic acid (0 or 10 μg/g soil). Nitrogen and ferulic acid (FA) were applied every other day to the soil surface. The amount of FA in the soil solution declined with depth in the containers. A more rapid disappearance of FA from the soil solution was observed for the last FA treatment (0% recovered after 10 hr on day 23) than the first treatment (44% recovered after 10 hr on day 13). Both low N (5 μg N/g soil) and FA treatments reduced shoot dry weight, the mean absolute (AGR) and the mean relative (RGR) rates of leaf expansion, and increased the root-shoot ratio. High N treatments reduced shoot dry weight and the AGR. Ferulic acid inhibited cucumber seedling growth over a range of N concentrations, suggesting that the allelopathic activity of phenolic acids may be important in both nutrient limiting and nonlimiting soils for some species.

Key words

Allelopathy ferulic acid Cucumis sativus leaf expansion nitrogen levels growth inhibition 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristofer Klein
    • 1
  • Udo Blum
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleigh

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