Different Responses of an Invasive Clonal Plant Wedelia trilobata and its Native Congener to Gibberellin: Implications for Biological Invasion

Zhi Cong Dai, Wei Fu, Shan Shan Qi, De Li Zhai, Si Chong Chen, Ling Yun Wan, Ping Huang, Dao Lin Du

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The invasive clonal plant Wedelia trilobata contains higher levels of ent-kaurane diterpenes, which are precursors of gibberellins (GAs), and higher rates of clonal growth than its native congener W. chinensis in invaded habitats. We hypothesized that the higher levels of endogenous GAs facilitate greater ramet growth in W. trilobata compared with W. chinensis. We quantified endogenous levels of GA1+3 in the two species and compared their growth responses to the changes of endogenous and exogenous GA3 by using short-term and long-term hydroponics experiments. After a period of homogeneous cultivation, levels of endogenous GA1+3 were higher in W. trilobata than in W. chinensis. The reduction of endogenous GAs repressed the emergence of adventitious roots and the growth of W. trilobata in the initial cultivation stage, and inhibited its shoot elongation and biomass. Levels of endogenous GA1+3 were positively correlated with the length of shoots and adventitious roots of W. trilobata. Adventitious roots of W. trilobata also emerged earlier and grew faster when treated with exogenous GA3. In contrast, exogenous GA3 treatment inhibited the length of adventitious roots in W. chinensis, and levels of endogenous GA1+3 did not correlate with shoot or adventitious root length. Our study suggests that GAs accelerate the rapid clonal growth of W. trilobata, more than that of its native congener W. chinensis, illustrating the relationship between plant hormones and the clonal growth of invasive plants. These findings are important for understanding the mechanisms associated with the invasiveness of clonal plants and their potential management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-94
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Biological invasion
  • Clonal plants
  • Plant hormone
  • Rapid clonal growth
  • Wedelia trilobata

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


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