Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ashland chemists publish research from international collaboration

Chemistry faculty members Dr. Brian Mohney and Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer have collaborated with a group of German scientists at the Free University of Berlin on a study showing that natural herbicides released by plant roots are transported by fungal hyphae in the soil. The research used a technique developed by Dr. Mohney and Dr. Weidenhamer and their students to monitor the movement of chemical compounds exuded by marigold roots. AU Alum Tricia Matz ’10 assisted with some of the laboratory analyses for this project. The paper, titled “The Fungal Fast Lane: Common Mycorrhizal Networks Extend Bioactive Zones of Allelochemicals in Soils”, has been published in the online journal PLoS One. Mycorrhizae are symbiotic fungi that help plant roots take up nutrients and water, and this is the first study showing that these compounds can move through the network of fungal hyphae in the soil and expand the zone of biological inhibition that these natural herbicides cause. This previously unrecognized phenomenon may be important in allowing exotic plant species which produce natural herbicidal compounds to invade new habitats.

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