Phytochemistry Reviews

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 1225–1237 | Cite as

Allelopathy in tropical and subtropical species

  • Joey K. Ooka
  • Daniel K. OwensEmail author


The ability of certain plants to synthesize allelochemicals that disrupt the germination, development, reproduction and/or survival of organisms that compete with them for resources has been observed in a variety of environments worldwide. Tropical and subtropical regions are particularly conducive to the evolution of allelopathic survival strategies as the relatively constant temperatures and mild frost-free winters produce a hospitable year-round growing season. This allows for the proliferation of a large variety of species and leads to fierce competition for sunlight, nutrients, water and other resources. Allelopathy provides an advantage to invasive species allowing for increased competitiveness and fitness over native and agricultural species in a variety of different habitats. Herein, the diversity and known action mechanisms of allelopathic compounds with a focus on tropical and subtropical communities is reviewed. Furthermore, the current and future prospect of utilizing and developing these allelopathic chemicals as weed control options is discussed.


Allelochemicals Herbicide Invasive species Secondary metabolite Weed control 



Acetyl-CoA carboxylase


Acetolactate synthase


Enoylpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase


p-Hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase


Integrated pest management


Mode of action


Mustard seed meal


Photosystem II



The authors are grateful to Noa Smith and Jacob Chang of the University of Hawaii at Manoa for their support and technical contributions during the preparation of this manuscript.


This work was supported by the USDA-NIFA-Hatch program (Project: HAW05033-H).

Complice with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering, MBBE-CTAHRUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA

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