In this chapter the different roles that allelopathy can play as a bioregulator tool in agriculture are discussed. A wide spectrum of studies are given on allelopathic plants and other organisms, the chemistry involved in these studies, the mechanisms of action of some allelochemicals, and the use of allelopathy to control weeds, pests (nematodes) and diseases.
Many arguments can be given in favor of organic and sustainable agricultural practices as new forms of resources management such as multiple cropping, cover crops, organic compost, and biological controls for pests. Allelopathy is an emerging tool for a more biorational management of natural resources. However, allelopathy is not a simple panacea for the solution of ecological problems in agroecosystems or in natural ecosystems. It has not been considered as a universal ecological phenomenon;
allelopathy is a challenging and exigent matter of study. At present we have proof that secondary metabolites are involved with biotic interactions, and that allelopathic effects may restrict or enhance, alone or in relation with other environmental factors (light, temperature, humidity and nutrients), the distribution, health and growth of species in natural, artificial or managed communities. in the search for application of allelopathy knowledge is crucial to understand other biotic interactions (competition, defense against herbivory) and also the actual and full significance of a mixture of secondary metabolites all together acting in the environment (Anaya, 1999).
Allelopathy typically operates through the release, modification, and joint action of a number of allelochemicals in a particular situation, and transitions through the soil add to the complications for explaining the phenomenon. The frontiers in research on allelopathy include isolation of additional compounds that may be involved, and determining more precisely how allelochemicals production is regulated and how the compounds function to inhibit growth. such information may allow modification of crop plants so they have enhanced capability for weed suppression. Alternatively, new herbicides, pesticides, and growth regulators may be developed from some of plant and microorganisms compounds (Einhellig, 1989).
in the study of biological interactions mediated by secondary metabolites it is very important to perform multidisciplinary investigations in a long term approach in order to understand these interactions from an holistic point of view and make use of them for beneficial purposes in the management of natural resources in agroecosystems.
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