News of the WeekEcology

Plant Invader May Use Chemical Weapons

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Science  20 Oct 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5491, pp. 421-422
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5491.421a

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On page 521, plant ecologists offer a novel explanation for the success of invasive plants. By comparing how one species of knapweed, Centaurea diffusa, behaves with its natural neighbors and with foreign plant species that evolved separately, they found that the invader apparently gains an edges in its adopted home not only by ditching its herbivores but by wielding weaponry: chemicals exuded from its roots that hamper its new neighbors' growth.