Allelopathy confers an invasive Wedelia higher resistance to generalist herbivore and pathogen enemies over its native congener.


Institute of Environment and Ecology, Academy of Environmental Health and Ecological Security, Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang, 212013, People's Republic of China. [Email]


The Novel Defense Hypothesis predicts that introduced plants may possess novel allelochemicals which act as a defense against native generalist enemies. Here, we aim to test if the chemicals involved in allelopathy in the invasive plant Wedelia trilobata can contribute to higher resistance against generalist herbivore and pathogen enemies by comparing with its native congener W. chinensis in controlled laboratory conditions. The allelopathic effects of the leaf extract from W. trilobata on the generalist enemies were also assessed. We showed that the larvae of two moth species preferred W. chinensis over W. trilobata. The growth rate of larvae feeding on W. trilobata leaves was significantly lower than those feeding on W. chinensis leaves. When detached leaves were inoculated with phytopathogens, the infected leaf area of W. trilobata was significantly smaller than that of W. chinensis. In addition, the leaf extract of W. trilobata also effectively inhibited the growth of the larvae and the mycelial growth of the phytopathogens. Our results indicate that the defenses of invasive W. trilobata against generalist herbivore and pathogen enemies are stronger than that of its native congener, which may be attributed to the allelopathic effects. This study provides novel insights that can comprehensively link the Novel Defense, Behavioral Constraint and Enemy Release hypotheses. These combined hypotheses would explain how invasive plants escape from their natural specialist enemies, where their allelopathic chemicals may deter herbivorous insects and inhibit pathogen infection.


Defense,Generalist enemy,Leaf extract,Novel weapon,Plant invasion,

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