Plants exchange signals with other physical and biological entities in their habitat, a form of communication termed allelopathy. The underlying principles of allelopathy and secondary-metabolite production are still poorly understood, especially in desert plants. The coordination and role of secondary metabolites were examined as a cause of allelopathy in plants thriving under arid and semiarid soil conditions. Desert plant species, Origanum dayi, Artemisia sieberi and Artemisia judaica from two different sources (cultivar cuttings and wild seeds) were studied in their natural habitats. Growth rate, relative water content, osmotic potential, photochemical efficiency, volatile composition and vital factors of allelopathy were analyzed at regular intervals along four seasons with winter showing optimum soil water content and summer showing water deficit conditions. A comprehensive analysis of the volatile composition of the leaves, ambient air and soil in the biological niche of the plants under study was carried out to determine the effects of soil water conditions and sample plants on the surrounding flora. Significant morpho-physiological changes were observed across the seasons and along different soil water content. Metabolic analysis showed that water deficit was the key for driving selective metabolomic shifts. A. judaica showed the least metabolic shifts, while A. sieberi showed the highest shifts. All the species exhibited high allelopathic effects; A. judaica displayed relatively higher growth-inhibition effects, while O. dayi showed comparatively higher germination-inhibition effects in germination assays. The current study may help in understanding plant behavior, mechanisms underlying secondary-metabolite production in water deficit conditions and metabolite-physiological interrelationship with allelopathy in desert plants, and can help cull economic benefits from the produced volatiles.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)