Phytotoxicity of Phytolacca americana leaf extracts on the growth, and physiological response of Cassia mimosoides

J Chem Ecol. 2005 Dec;31(12):2963-74. doi: 10.1007/s10886-005-8407-y. Epub 2005 Dec 18.


We examined the allelochemical effects of control soil, native soil (treated soil), and leaf extracts of Phytolacca americana (pokeweed) on the germination rate and seedling growth of Cassia mimosoides var. nomame. We also studied the resulting changes in root-tip ultrastructure and peroxidase isozyme biochemistry. P. americana leaf extract inhibited seed germination, seedling growth, and biomass when compared to control and treated soil. Root and shoot growth in treated soil was stimulated relative to control soil, but root growth was inhibited by 50% in the leaf extract treatment. Biomass of C. mimosoides seedlings grown on leaf extract was reduced sevenfold when compared to the control seedlings. The amounts of total phenolic compounds in the leaf extract, treated soil, and control soil were 0.77, 0.14, and 0.03 mg l(-1), respectively. The root tips of C. mimsoides treated with leaf extracts of P. americana showed amyloplasts and large central vacuoles with electron-dense deposits inside them when compared to control root tips. The activity of guaiacol peroxidase (GuPOX) in whole plant, roots, and shoots of C. mimosoides increased as leaf extract increased; maximum activity was observed in extract concentrations of 75% and higher. Root GuPOX activity was three times higher than in shoots. Therefore, we conclude that inhibition of C. mimosoides growth is related to the phenolic compounds in the P. americana leaf extract and the ultrastructure changes in root-tip cells and increased GuPOX activity is a response to these allelochemicals.

MeSH terms

  • Cassia / drug effects*
  • Cassia / enzymology
  • Cassia / growth & development
  • Cassia / physiology
  • Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Phenols / toxicity
  • Phytolacca americana / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / toxicity*
  • Plant Roots / enzymology


  • Phenols
  • Plant Extracts
  • guaiacol peroxidase
  • Peroxidase