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Signal, Not Poison-Screening Mint Essential Oils for Weed Control Leads to Horsemint

  • Sarheed, Mohammed
  • Schärer, Hans-Jakob
  • Wang-Müller, Qiyan
  • Flury, Pascale
  • Maes, Chloé
  • Genva, Manon
  • Fauconnier, Marie-Laure
  • Nick, Peter
Publication Date
Mar 18, 2023
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peer reviewed / Weed control tries to suppress competitors for a crop and often relies on differential intoxication, making use of differences in uptake, development, or metabolism. We explored the possibility of using natural signals to shift competition in favour of the crop. Using the competitive horsemint (Mentha longifolia) as a paradigm, we showed that essential oils from certain mint species suppress the seedling development of different target species in a specific and efficient manner. The specificity concerned both the donor and the receptor. We demonstrated further that the effect of horsemint oil was specific for actin filaments, and not for microtubules. Since the elimination of actin will impair auxin transport, which is essential for root regeneration in vegetatively propagating weeds, we tested the efficacy of horsemint essential oil in combination with a slow-release carrier against field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis), a pertinent weed in organic cereal production. We observed that the development of this weed can be specifically blocked, especially if the carrier is worked into the soil. We propose that allelopathic interactions, often relying on manipulative chemical signalling, harbour significant potential for organic weed control.

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