Allelopathy: Advances, Challenges and Opportunities

  • Azim U. Mallik


The phenomenon of plants influencing neighbouring plants through the release of chemicals in the environment has been known as early as c. 370 BC. Greeks and Romans have used this knowledge in agriculture since c. 64 AD. However, it was not until 1937 when Hans Molisch gave it a formal name, allelopathy. The definition of allelopathy ranges from simple to all-inclusive and complex, creating controversy as to its limits and bounds. The complexity and interacting nature of the allelopathy phenomenon makes it difficult to demonstrate its role in community organization. The challenge is to separate the allelopathic effects from other processes such as competition under field conditions, raising an even greater controversy of its legitimacy. To skeptics it remains a controversial subject that often suffers from inconclusive proof. Nonetheless, it is impossible to deny the existence of plant–plant interaction mediated by chemicals released in the environment, and significant advances have been made in recent years by using creative experimental design, sophisticated chemical analyses and careful data interpretation. Advances have been made in fundamental understanding of the process as well as its application in agriculture, forestry, rangeland and aquatic ecosystem management. There is no denying that allelopathy plays a prominent role in ecology and evolution of plant communities. However, its pervasive interacting nature intrigues us as well as challenges us as scientists to dig deeper into the understanding of its mechanism of action. Working on this challenge will lead to new discovery that will keep us excited to learn more and gain a better understanding of the phenomenon. Equipped with this new knowledge and understanding, we should be able to solve many difficult environmental problems of our time.


Weed Control White Clover Allelopathic Effect Exotic Plant Invasion Exotic Invasion 
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© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Azim U. Mallik
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyLakehead UniversityThunder BayCanada

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