TSU researchers will create an effective bioherbicide

28 June 2019

Scientists at the TSU Biological Institute conducted a series of experiments and obtained new data on Melilotus albus. This unpretentious plant of the legume family is grown in Siberia for fodder and melliferous purposes and is distinguished by a consistently high productivity of raw materials, including seeds. The researchers found that the water extract from the Melilotus albus seeds acts as an active bioherbicide - even in low concentrations, it inhibits the growth and reproduction capacity of many weeds and invasive plants.

- Plants are able to synthesize different groups of biologically active substances and release them into the environment. Thus, they stimulate or inhibit the development of living organisms, and this property is called allelopathy, - explains Svetlana Mikhailova, associate professor at the Department of Agricultural Biology, Biological Institute, a researcher at the Tomsk branch of the All-Russian Center of Plant Quarantine. - This feature of plants can be used to develop bioherbicides, natural plant protection products that are not inferior in efficiency to chemistry but are an environmentally friendly product. With the development of organic farming, this topic is becoming increasingly relevant.

In search of the basis for creating bioherbicides, scientists of the TSU Biological Institute conducted a screening of a number of species for allelopathic activity and decided on the Melilotus albus. As the object of the study, they selected the seeds of the Ob Giant type and studied their ability to inhibit the germination of weeds and invasive plants. Along with this, biologists have tested the effects of the extract on crops: wheat, oats, rye, and flax.

- The results of repeated experiments suggest that aqueous extracts of the Melilotus albus seeds have high phytotoxic properties, - says Svetlana Mikhailova. Even in a small concentration (0.5%), it causes a strong inhibitory effect, which is expressed in inhibition of seed germination and a sharp decrease in the size of seedlings, especially the root system. The use of a 2% extract in many of the plants we tested led to almost complete suppression of seed germination.

In the near future, TSU biologists will continue to study the phytotoxicity of Siberian plants to develop bioherbicide preparations. To expand the boundaries of the study, entomologists, genetics, and chemists will join biologists. Interest in joint research was expressed by Belarusian specialists from the V. F. Kuprevich Institute of Experimental Botany, who conduct similar studies in parallel.

Scientists plan to analyze the allelopathic properties of different species, one of which may be giant hogweed, extremely aggressive alien species that are rapidly spreading in Russia, capturing more and more new areas.