A lack of evidence for an ecological role of the putative allelochemical (+/-)-catechin in spotted knapweed invasion success

J Chem Ecol. 2006 Oct;32(10):2327-31. doi: 10.1007/s10886-006-9168-y.


Allelopathy is a notoriously difficult mechanism to demonstrate. There has been a recent resurgence of interest in allelopathy because of the work done on the invasive weed spotted knapweed and its putative allelochemical, (+/-)-catechin. In this study we collected and analyzed soil samples taken from three, long-term knapweed infested sites in Montana, USA during the summer and fall of 2005. We only detected catechin in all the soil cores at one time point (August, 2005) at two of the sites. Field levels from these two sites were nearly three orders of magnitude lower than what has previously been reported to cause reduced growth in a sensitive native species. Fourteen percent of the remaining soil cores contained low but detectable levels (<0.11 ppm) of (+/-)-catechin. Additional experiments indicated that soil moisture appears to play a significant role in whether or not catechin degrades rapidly or remains in the soil. Adding to previous work, this paper sheds doubt on the importance of this chemical in spotted knapweed invasion success.

MeSH terms

  • Catechin / analysis
  • Catechin / chemistry*
  • Catechin / metabolism*
  • Centaurea / physiology*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Pheromones / chemistry*
  • Pheromones / metabolism*
  • Soil / analysis


  • Pheromones
  • Soil
  • Catechin