Novel chemistry of invasive plants: exotic species have more unique metabolomic profiles than native congeners

M. Macel, R.C.H. de Vos, J.J. Jansen, W.H. Van der Putten, N.M. Van Dam

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t is often assumed that exotic plants can become invasive when they possess novel secondary chemistry compared with native plants in the introduced range. Using untargeted metabolomic fingerprinting, we compared a broad range of metabolites of six successful exotic plant species and their native congeners of the family Asteraceae. Our results showed that plant chemistry is highly species-specific and diverse among both exotic and native species. Nonetheless, the exotic species had on average a higher total number of metabolites and more species-unique metabolites compared with their native congeners. Herbivory led to an overall increase in metabolites in all plant species. Generalist herbivore performance was lower on most of the exotic species compared with the native species. We conclude that high chemical diversity and large phytochemical uniqueness of the exotic species could be indicative of biological invasion potential.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2777-2786
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2014



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