Exudate Chemical Profiles Derived from Lespedeza and Other Tallgrass Prairie Plant Species
US Army Engineer Research and Development Center CEERD-IS-L Vicksburg United States
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Lespedeza cuneata is an introduced legume that is invasive in the tallgrass prairie system and open woodlands of North America. This system includes native Lespedeza species that coexist with L. cuneata, including L. capitata and L. virginica. Previous research has indicated that L. cuneata exudates have profound influences on soil biological functions. The goal of this current research was to identify and then compare exudate chemicals from L. cuneata, L. capitata, L. virginica, and common tallgrass prairie grasses. Exudates from Lespedeza species were found to be distinct from the grasses. In particular, L. cuneata and, to a lesser extent, a subset of L. virginica could be differentiated based on the presence of five unique compounds. Two low molecular weight compounds were identified via gas chromatographymass spectrometry GCMS and tentatively identified as benzophenone and 1,4-diacetylbenzene. Three higher molecular weight compounds were identified by liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry LC-ESI-MS, with possible relationships to a 3 sterol, phosphatidylglycerol, and the 19-nor analogues of vitamin D. The relative abundance of these compounds were found to be greater in the invasive species, L. cuneata, than in the native noninvasive species, L. virginica. These results are an integral step in further understanding through chemical exudation how L. cuneata can be benefiting from greater rhizobial associations.