Plants that release molecules affecting other plants are a source of potential bioherbicides. Silver wattle (Acacia dealbata Link), considered invasive worldwide, was found to be phytotoxic to various other plant species. Combining the search for alternative bioherbicides while reducing the spread of this invader by preventing seed formation is a good potential strategy to solve both agricultural and environmental problems. This study aimed to identify nonvolatile compounds from A. dealbata flowers and explore their phytotoxicity on the germination process and seedling and plant growth of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.), wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), and rigid ryegrass (Lolium rigidum Gaudin). We identified methyl cinnamate and methyl anisate as potential phytotoxins in the extracts, but we used pure commercial molecules to conduct bioassays. Methyl cinnamate showed higher phytotoxicity than methyl anisate and was selected for further bioassays. Methyl cinnamate reduced guaiacol peroxidase activity by 57% and 85% in L. rigidum and lettuce, respectively, and α-amylase by 6% in L. rigidum. This compound also inhibited early stem and radicle growth of dicotyledonous lettuce (60% and 89%, respectively) and monocotyledonous L. rigidum (76% and 87%, respectively), both species having small seeds. However, wheat with a larger seed size was not affected by the phytotoxin. The results obtained indicate a potential bioherbicidal effect for methyl cinnamate, and its application might be useful in wheat crops infested by L. rigidum. We suggest that collecting A. dealbata flowers would prevent Acacia seed formation and thus play a role in invasive pest management, as well as serving as a source of potential herbicides to other species.
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Vol. 68 • No. 1