Field and bioassay studies with Jacobaea vulgaris (ragwort) have shown that plants grow poorly in soil originating from the rhizosphere of this species and that this can influence the dynamics of ragwort populations during secondary succession. In the present study we examined whether the negative effect of ragwort on conspecifics may be due to autotoxicity. First, we experimentally established that ragwort exerts negative plant–soil feedback. We subsequently examined the inhibitory effects on germination and seedling performance of different strengths of aqueous extracts made from shoot and root tissues of ragwort, and from soil in which ragwort had been growing. The effects of the extracts were tested for seedlings growing in sterilised soil or in glass beads with water. Finally, the inhibitory effect of entire root fragments on seedling performance was tested. We observed that performance of seedlings growing in glass beads was significantly reduced by the high and medium strength root and shoot extracts. Extracts made from soil did not differ significantly from the control, and seedlings growing in sterilised soil were also not affected by ragwort extracts. Seed germination was significantly reduced by the high strength shoot extract only. The root length of seedlings growing in water with root fragments was reduced significantly. We conclude that under laboratory conditions ragwort can be autotoxic and discuss the role that autotoxicity may play in influencing the dynamics of ragwort populations during secondary succession.
Van de Voorde, T. F. J., Ruijten, M. B. C., Van der Putten, W. H., & Bezemer, T. M. (2012). Can the negative plant-soil feedback of Jacobaea vulgaris be explained by autotoxicity? Basic and Applied Ecology, 13(6), 533-541. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2012.08.012