Secondary plant metabolites (SPMEs) play an important role in plant survival in the environment and serve to establish ecological relationships between plants and other organisms. Communication between plants and microorganisms via SPMEs contained in root exudates or derived from litter decomposition is an example of this phenomenon. In this review, the general aspects of rhizodeposition together with the significance of terpenes and phenolic compounds are discussed in detail. We focus specifically on the effect of SPMEs on microbial community structure and metabolic activity in environments contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Furthermore, a section is devoted to a complex effect of plants and/or their metabolites contained in litter on bioremediation of contaminated sites. New insights are introduced from a study evaluating the effects of SPMEs derived during decomposition of grapefruit peel, lemon peel, and pears on bacterial communities and their ability to degrade PCBs in a long-term contaminated soil. The presented review supports the “secondary compound hypothesis” and demonstrates the potential of SPMEs for increasing the effectiveness of bioremediation processes.
Musilova, L.; Ridl, J.; Polivkova, M.; Macek, T.; Uhlik, O. Effects of Secondary Plant Metabolites on Microbial Populations: Changes in Community Structure and Metabolic Activity in Contaminated Environments. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2016, 17, 1205.