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ISSN : 1598-5504(Print)
ISSN : 2383-8272(Online)
Journal of Agriculture & Life Science Vol.54 No.3 pp.1-7

Influence of Elevated pH on Germination, Growth Attributes and ABA Contents of Sticky Mouse-Ear Chickweed (Cerastium glomeratum Thuill.)

Eun-Jung Park, Khan Aaqil Muhammad, Lee-Rang Kim, In-Jung Lee*
School of Applied Biosciences, Kyungpook National University, Daegu 41566, Korea
*Corresponding author: Lee In-Jung Tel: +82-53-950-5708 Fax: +82-53-958-6880 E-mail:
May 18, 2020 ; June 16, 2020 ; June 17, 2020


Sticky mouse-ear chickweed (Cerastium glomeratum Thuill.) is a dominant annual weed of Korea. Control management of such an exotic weed is a challenging task for agronomist and researcher over the years. We evaluated the effect of elevated pH levels on the germination, growth, chlorophyll content, nutrients and hormonal regulation of sticky mouse-ear chickweed under green-house conditions. Our results showed that pH have no significant effect on seed germination except pH3, which reduced germination rate by 10%. Maximum hypocotyl and radicle growth was observed at pH5 and pH7, while hypocotyl failed to emerge at pH 3. Plant growth attributes showed that plant height, fresh biomass, number of leaves and chlorophyll content were higher at pH7 and pH9; while lowest number of leaves (24.8 ± 2.8) and chlorophyll content (313.2 ± 11.2 SPAD) were recorded for pH3. The endogenous ABA levels were significantly higher at pH3 (71.22±5.4ng/g) but lowered at pH7 and pH9 (6.6±0.8 ng/g). The weed nutrients uptake result showed higher Fe (858.47 mg/kg) and Al (835.05 mg/kg) at pH 3 and pH 5; while higher Ca content (4887.2 mg/kg) was observed at pH 5. It was concluded that use of varying pH can play a vital role in the weed management, although its possible adverse impact on endemic flora and fauna needs to be assessed.



    Weeds possess socio-economic and environmental impact that pose threat to global food security, biodiversity, ecosystem and human health (Neve et al., 2018), in other words they are plants in the wrong place. Weeds are notorious for crop yield reduction (Gharde et al., 2018;Khan et al., 2017) and in many situation are more harmful economically than insects, fungi and other crop pests (Gharde et al., 2018). In cultivated fields, weeds compete the crops for water, light, nutrients, space that ultimately cause great loses to the crop (Ngo et al., 2019) and negatively impact the natural agro-biodiversity and ecosystem (Ehrenfeld 2010;Simberloff et al., 2013). Globally, weeds inflict losses of 10% to agricultural industry (Chauhan, 2020). Lee et al., (2018) reported 321 exotic species in South Korea. These alien species originated from Eurasia, North and tropical America. The taxonomical hierarchy of exotic naturalized plants in Korea consist of 14 varieties, 38 families 169 genera, 298 species and 312 taxon’s (Ko et al., 2019).

    Sticky mouse-ear chickweed is an annual weed belongs to family Caryophyllaceae and grows in diverse habitats. Cerastium is Greek word kerastes meaning horned and refers to the shape of the capsule. The name Sticky mouse-ear chickweed refers to the sticky nature of the mouse eared shaped leaves. C. glomeratum; a highly dominant in Gyeonggi, Gangwon and Jeju areas in Korea (Oh et al., 2004). These plants may harm nature ecosystem and natural flora and fauna (Ko et al., 2019;Lee et al., 2018). Kil et al., (2015) reported that C. glomeratum play a role as a host to transmit tomato chlorosis virus. It is estimated that seeds of Sticky mouse-ear chickweed were brought from Europe in the 1980s to 2000s.

    The effect of weed varied greatly as our activities, increase in long distance trade, climate change, herbicide resistance, interfere with habitat management (Darbyshire & Prasad, 2009). In the context of global trade, the dispersal of weeds from one region to another has imposed serious negative effect on ecology and mankind (Bai, 2014;Pimentel et al., 2000). Therefore, weed management is the major and important part of crop production. Weed management is very challenging for agronomist and weed ecologist these days (Davis et al., 2017). Weed plant grow faster, spread quickly, reproduce germination in high number and produce massive quantities of seed that make them able to start a kingdom of their own within a short period of time (Habib et al., 2020). Weed vegetation in crop field has changed depending on crop pattern and weed control methods. Improved man-agement techniques including herbicides, have resulted in good control of weeds and facilitated different cropping patterns and steadily increasing crop yield (Marshall et al., 2003). A successful application of herbicides has direct influence on weed community in crop fields (Hwang et al., 2015;Verma et al., 2015). Besides herbicides, mulching and hand weeding are usually employed and used to manage weed occurrence (Hwang et al., 2015). Huge investments have been spent on weed management each year, but still its management remains challenging problem for agriculturists. Keeping in view the deleterious effect of sticky mouse-ear chickweed, the current experiment was designed in order to investigate the effect of elevated pH on seed germination, growth attributes, chlorophyll content, ABA regulation and nutrient content of sticky mouse-ear chickweed plant.

    Materials and Methods

    1. General Procedure

    To determine the effect of pH on seed germination, elevated pH 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 were adjusted using 50 ml distilled water. Weed seeds (20) were sown in sterile disposable petri dish with 5 replicates, supplied with filter paper and placed in an incubator at 25°C. Seed germination rates were recorded at 5, 10 and 15 days of sowing. On the 15th day, radicle and hypocotyl lengths were measured.

    Germination (%) = (total number of germinated seeds/total number of seeds per assay)×100

    Seeds were sown in plastic pot containing horticultural soil and grown under controlled greenhouse conditions (25±5°C). Four-week-old seedlings treated with 10 ml of distilled water adjusted to pH 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 for 10 days and after 7 days, the growth attributes were recorded. Different growth attributes such as length, biomass, no of leaves, and leaf chlorophyll measurement of fully expanded leaves were recorded with the help of chlorophyll meter (SPAD-502 Minolta, Japan) were analyzed.

    2. Determination of endogenous abscisic acid (ABA) contents

    For endogenous ABA content the detail method of Khan et al., (2018) was followed through GC-MS SIM. The pulverized plant samples were treated with 30 mL of extraction solution containing 95% isopropanol, 5% glacial acetic acid, and 20 ng of [(±)– 3,5,5,7,7,7–d6]–ABA. The extracts were dried and methylated by adding diazomethane for GC-MS SIM (6890 N network GC system, and 5973 network mass-selective detector; Agilent Technologies, Palo Alto, CA, USA) analysis. For quantification, the Lab-Base data system software (Thermo Quest, Manchester, UK) was used to monitor responses to ions of m/e 162 and 190 for Me-ABA, and 166 and 194 for Me-[2H6]-ABA.

    3. Elemental analysis through ICP

    The detail method of Khan et al., (2019) was used for elemental analysis of Fe, Al and Ca. The lyophilized (0.5 g) crushed powder of plant samples was soaked in 0.5-M HCl and rinsed through double distilled water before oven drying. The sample was treated with a mixture of nitric acid, sulfuric acid, and perchloric acid (10:1:4, v/v/v). The digested sample obtained was thenanalyzed through inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (Optima 7900DV Perkin-Elmer, Waltham, MA, USA).

    4. Statistical analysis

    The present experiments was performed in a completely randomized design. Each experiment was repeated three times. The data were analysed statistically for standard deviation and error by using GraphPad Prism. The mean values were compared using Duncan's multiple range tests at Statistic Analysis System.

    Results and Discussion

    1. Influence of pH on Sticky Chickweed seed germination

    Current results showed that maximum seed germination (80- 90%) was observed at pH 5 and 7 at 5 days after treatment (DAT), 10DAT and 15 DAT, while a slight decrease in germination rate from 8 to 16% at pH 9 and 11 after 15DAT were observed (Fig. 1). At pH 3 a significantly inhabit the germination rate below 10%. Based on these results, mouse ear weed can germinate under acidic soil and higher pH could not be a limiting factor for this germination. However, low pH significantly inhabited the seed germination. These results are in accordance with earlier reports (Gentili et al., 2018;Sang et al., 2011), who found higher germination rate in ragweed at pH5 to pH7 than at lower or higher pH values. Weeds germination at different pH range were also reported in other weeds such as Mimosa pudica (sleepy plant or touch me not), Ipomoea asarifolia (ginger leaf morning glory), Lolium rigidum (rigid ryegrass), and Senna obtusifolia (sicklepod)(Chauhan et al., 2006;Javaid & Tanveer, 2014;Lu et al., 2006;Norsworthy & Oliveira, 2006;Souza Fiho et al., 2001). In contrast poor germination occur at low pH value was reported in ragweed (Gentili et al., 2018;Norsworthy & Oliveira, 2006;Sang et al., 2011).

    We also observed that different pH levels have variable results of radical and hypocotyl length (Fig. 2). At pH 5 and pH7 plants seem to grow more quickly than pH 9 and pH11. At pH5 and pH7 highest radial length were observed compared with pH9, and pH11. Similar results were observed in hypocotyl length, however highest hypocotyl length were observed at pH9, while no hypocotyl emergence were observed at pH 3. Similar results were also reported by Oliveira & Norsworthy (2017) on morning- glory that pH3 and pH10 inhabit the hypocotyl and radical.

    2. Influence of pH on Sticky mouse-earchickweed growth attributes

    Plant growth attributes were significantly affected by elevated pH levels (Table 1; Fig. 3). Total length results showed highest total length at pH7 (27.3 ± 1.7 cm) and pH9 (26.2 ± 1.2 cm) followed by pH11 (23.1 ±1.6 cm); while lowest length were observed at pH3 (18.9 ± 2.01 cm). Similarly lowest number of leaves (24.8 ± 2.8) and chlorophyll measurement (313.2 ± 11.2 SPAD) were observed at pH3 compared with higher pH treated plants. Highest no of leaves (49.8 ± 4.3- 48.6 ± 2.0) and chlorophyll content (404.0 ± 8.2 - 411.6 ± 17.4 SPAD) were observed at pH7 and pH9. Our results demonstrated that different pH levels have different effect on total length, biomass, no of leaves and chlorophyll content. Our finding support the results reported by Gentili et al., (2018) and Qingsong et al., (2019); according to them, different pH (low, neutral and high) showed quite different plant growth attributes (height, and biomass) in C. versicolor and ragweed.

    3. Influence of pH on endogenous ABA levels of sticky mouse-ear chickweed

    ABA is widely recognized as a stress hormone and inhabit seed germination and developmental process in pants (Kang et al., 2015;Nambara et al., 2010;Schopfer et al., 1979). Current study showed that ABA content was higher at pH3 (71.22± 5.4ng/g) (Fig. 4). At normal pH7 and pH9; lower content of ABA were detected (6.6±0.8 ng/g) but a gradual increase were observed as we increase to pH11 (29.55±3.7 ng/g). Our finding support the results reported by Daeter et al., (1993) according to them, different pH (low, neutral and high) gradients cause changes in the intercellular distribution of ABA. Similarly Wilkinson & Davies (1997) demonstrated that high pH reduces stomatal aperture in leaves may cause accumulation of ABA and inhabit plant growth and leaves elongation.

    4. Influence of pH on nutrient uptake of sticky mouse-ear chickweed

    Soil pH play an important role as it affects nutrients availability (Gentili et al., 2018;Soti et al., 2015) and when soil pH is neutral, most of mineral nutrients are readily available to plants (Gentili et al., 2018;Pausas & Austin, 2001;Soti et al., 2015). Previous reports showed that in most acidic soil essential nutrients exist in unavailable forms to plants (Pausas & Austin, 2001). Different pH affects the concentration of Fe, Al and Ca in sticky mouse-ear chickweed (Fig. 5). Weeds grown at pH 3 and pH 5 have higher concentration of Fe and Al; while higher content of Ca were observed at pH 5 and pH7. At higher pH 11 the ion uptake content was decreased (Fig. 5). Previously reported (by Foy, 1992;Kinraide, 1993;Silva, 2012) that in strong acidic soil certain ion including Al and Fe rise to toxic level for the majority of plants. Acidic soil have high cation exchange capacity and promote leaching of nutrients result in soil unfavorable for plant growth (Johnson, 2002). Kinraide (1993) reported that Al decrease solute leakage at low pH. On the other hand extreme alkaline soils tend to be unfavorable for plant growth with ion deficiency including Fe (Marschner, 1995;Tyler, 1999).

    From current study we concluded that sticky mouse-ear chickweed had highest growth at neutral pH and showed a significant decline in all growth attributes on extreme soil pH 3 and pH 11, showing significant weed growth reduction in highly acidic or alkaline soils. Thus raising or decreasing soil pH may be a possible weed management strategy in the near future. However, application of extreme pH for weed managements may cause adverse effects of the crops and related ecosystems. Therefore, further studies are suggested to evaluate the pros and cons of extreme pH on crops and related fauna.


    This research was supported by the Agenda Program (Project No.PJ013216032020) Rural Development Administration, Republic of Korea.



    Effect of elevated pH on seed germination of Sticky Chickweed at 5 DAT, 10 DAT and 15 DAT. Each data point represents the mean of three replicates. Error bars represent standard errors. The bars represented with different letters are significantly different from each other as evaluated by DMRT analysis.


    Effect of elevated pH levels on radicle and hypocotyl length of Sticky Chickweed at 5 DAT, 10 DAT and 15 DAT. Each data point represents the mean of three replicates. Error bars represent standard errors. The bars represented with different letters are significantly different from each other as evaluated by DMRT analysis.


    Effect of elevated pH levels on the growth attributes of Sticky Chickweed.


    Effect of elevated pH levels on endogenous ABA contents of Sticky Chickweed. Each data point represents the mean of three replicates. Error bars represent standard errors. The bars represented with different letters are significantly different from each other as evaluated by DMRT analysis.


    ICP analysis of Fe+, Al and Ca+ content in Sticky Chickweed at elevated pH levels. Each data point represents the mean of three replicates. Error bars represent standard errors. The bars represented with different letters are significantly different from each other as evaluated by DMRT analysis.


    Effect of different pH on growth attributes and chlorophyll content of Sticky Chickweed


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