Spiraea thunbergii Sieb. contains 1-O-cis-cinnamoyl-β-D-glucopyranose (CG) and 6-O-(4′-hydroxy-2′-methylene-butyroyl)-1-O-cis-cinnamoyl- β-D-glucopyranose (BCG) as major plant growth inhibiting constituents. In the present study, we determined the inhibitory activity of CG and BCG on root elongation of germinated seedlings of lettuce (Lactuca sativa), pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus), red clover (Trifolium pratense), timothy (Phleum pratense), and bok choy (Brassica rapa var chinensis) in comparison with that of two well-known growth inhibitors, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and (+)-2-cis-4-trans-abscisic acid (cis-ABA), as well as two related chemicals of CG and BCG, cis-cinnamic acid (cis-CA) and trans-cinnamic acid (trans-CA). The EC50 values for CG and BCG on lettuce were roughly one-half to one-quarter of the value for cis-ABA. cis-Cinnamic acid, which is a component of CG and BCG, possessed almost the same inhibitory activity of CG and BCG, suggesting that the essential chemical structure responsible for the inhibitory activity of CG and BCG is cis-CA. The cis-stereochemistry of the methylene moiety is apparently needed for high inhibitory activity, as trans-CA had an EC50 value roughly 100 times that of CG, BCG, and cis-CA. Growth inhibition by CG, BCG, and cis-CA was influenced by the nature of the soil in the growing medium: alluvial soil preserved the bioactivity, whereas volcanic ash and calcareous soils inhibited bioactivity. These findings indicate a potential role of cis-CA and its glucosides as allelochemicals for use as plant growth regulators in agricultural fields.
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