How Red Sorrel Extract Affects Growth and Health of White Clover

Jim Crocker
11th June, 2024

How Red Sorrel Extract Affects Growth and Health of White Clover

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Kyungpook National University studied the allelopathic effects of Rumex acetosella (sheep sorrel) on white clover using its shoot extract
  • Higher concentrations of Rumex acetosella extract reduced white clover's growth, chlorophyll, and protein content
  • Increased extract concentrations led to higher levels of reactive oxygen species and antioxidant enzymes in white clover, indicating oxidative stress
Allelopathy is a biological process where one organism releases biochemicals that affect the growth and development of other organisms. A recent study by researchers at Kyungpook National University sought to determine the allelopathic effect of Rumex acetosella, commonly known as sheep sorrel, on the growth and development of white clover (Trifolium repens) using its shoot extract as a foliar treatment[1]. This investigation is crucial as it explores natural methods for weed management, which could reduce the reliance on synthetic herbicides. In this study, different concentrations (25, 50, 100, and 200 g/L) of Rumex acetosella shoot extract were applied to white clover. The results showed that as the concentration of the shoot extract increased, the growth parameters, chlorophyll content, and total protein content of the white clover decreased. Conversely, reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as superoxide anion (O2.−) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), along with antioxidant enzymes like superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and peroxidase (POD), increased with higher concentrations of the shoot extract. Furthermore, the study delved into the phytohormonal changes induced by the shoot extract. It was found that higher concentrations of the extract led to increased levels of abscisic acid (ABA) and salicylic acid (SA), while jasmonic acid (JA) levels were reduced. These phytohormones play significant roles in plant stress responses and growth regulation. The identification of allelochemicals was carried out using liquid‒liquid extraction, thin-layer chromatography, and open-column chromatography, followed by a seed bioassay on the separated layers. The most abundant component identified through GC/MS analysis was gamma-sitosterol. The findings from this study align with previous research on allelopathy, which has shown that allelopathic compounds can inhibit the growth of neighboring plants by inducing oxidative stress and altering cellular functions[2]. This study also supports the notion that allelopathy can be an effective tool for natural weed management, potentially reducing the need for synthetic herbicides[3]. The observed increase in ROS and antioxidant enzyme activity in white clover treated with Rumex acetosella shoot extract suggests that the allelochemicals in the extract cause oxidative stress in the target plant. This is consistent with earlier studies that have shown how allelochemicals induce a burst of reactive oxygen species, leading to oxidative stress and cellular damage in target plants[2]. The changes in phytohormone levels also indicate a complex interaction between allelochemicals and plant hormonal pathways, which play crucial roles in plant stress responses[4]. Moreover, the identification of gamma-sitosterol as a major allelochemical in Rumex acetosella adds to the growing body of knowledge on specific compounds responsible for allelopathic effects. Previous studies have shown that certain chemicals released by plants can affect the growth of other plants and soil microbial communities[5]. The current study's focus on gamma-sitosterol provides a new avenue for understanding how specific allelochemicals contribute to the competitive abilities of weed species like Rumex acetosella. In summary, the study conducted by Kyungpook National University demonstrates the strong allelopathic properties of Rumex acetosella shoot extract and its potential to impede the growth and development of white clover. This research not only enhances our understanding of plant-plant interactions but also offers a promising alternative strategy for weed management. By leveraging natural allelopathic processes, it may be possible to develop more sustainable and environmentally friendly approaches to controlling weeds in agricultural systems.

AgricultureBiochemPlant Science


Main Study

1) Allelopathic effect of the methanol extract of the weed species-red sorrel (Rumex acetosella L.) on the growth, phytohormone content and antioxidant activity of the cover crop - white clover (Trifolium repens L.)

Published 10th June, 2024

Related Studies

2) Plant cell responses to allelopathy: from oxidative stress to programmed cell death.

3) The role of allelopathy in agricultural pest management.

4) Hormone balance and abiotic stress tolerance in crop plants.

5) Crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis) allelochemicals that interfere with crop growth and the soil microbial community.

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