Asparagus decline: Autotoxicity and autotoxic compounds in asparagus rhizomes

Hisashi Kato-Noguchi, Keisuke Nakamura, Osamu Ohno, Kiyotake Suenaga, Nobuyuki Okuda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) is a perennial vegetable, but its crop productivity and quality decrease gradually. One possible reason for “asparagus decline” is thought to be the autotoxicity of asparagus. However, the autotoxic property of asparagus rhizomes remains unknown. The objective of this study was to determine the potential role of rhizomes in the autotoxicity of asparagus. An aqueous methanol extract of asparagus rhizomes inhibited the growth of asparagus seedlings and six other test plants in a concentration-dependent manners: garden cress (Lepidum sativum L.), lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.), alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.), timothy (Phleum pratense L.) and barnyardgrass (Echinochloa crus-galli (L.) Beauv.). These results suggest that asparagus rhizomes contain autotoxic compounds. The extract was purified through several chromatographic steps with monitoring the autotoxic activity, and p-coumaric acid and iso-agatharesinol were isolated. These compounds inhibited the shoot and root growth of asparagus and two other test plants, garden cress and ryegrass, at concentrations higher than 0.1 mM. The concentrations required for 50% inhibition of the root and shoot growth of these test plants ranged from 0.36 to 0.85 mM and 0.41–1.22 mM for p-coumaric acid and iso-agatharesinol, respectively. Therefore, these compounds may contribute to the autotoxicity caused by asparagus rhizomes and may be involved in “asparagus decline”.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-29
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Plant Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jun 1


  • Allelopathy
  • Growth inhibition
  • Iso-agatharesinol
  • p-Coumaric acid
  • Phytotoxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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