Journal Article

Induced accumulation of phenolics and sawfly performance in Scots pine in response to previous defoliation

Marja Roitto, Pasi Rautio, Annamari Markkola, Riitta Julkunen-tiitto, Martti Varama, Karita Saravesi and Juha Tuomi

in Tree Physiology

Volume 29, issue 2, pages 207-216
Published in print February 2009 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online February 2009 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI:
Induced accumulation of phenolics and sawfly performance in Scots pine in response to previous defoliation

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Phenolic compounds often accumulate in foliar tissues of deciduous woody plants in response to previous insect defoliation, but similar responses have been observed infrequently in evergreen conifers. We studied the effects of defoliation on the foliar chemistry of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and cocoon mass, and survival of the pine sawfly (Diprion pini L.). In two successive years, needles were excised early in the season leaving only the current-year shoot intact (defoliated trees); untreated entire shoots served as controls (control trees). A year after the second defoliation, pine sawfly larvae were transferred to the trees. Delayed induced resistance in Scots pine in response to defoliation was indicated by (1) reduced cocoon mass in defoliated trees and (2) increased concentrations of phenolics and soluble condensed tannins in the foliage of defoliated trees compared with controls. Myricetin-3-galactoside, which showed the strongest induced response (104% and 71% increase in current-year (C) and previous-year (C+1) needles) of the compounds analyzed, also entered the regression model explaining variation in sawfly performance. Other compounds that entered the model, e.g., (+)-catechin, showed weaker responses to defoliation than myricetin-3-galactoside. Hyperin, condensed tannins and quercitrin showed strong induced responses in C or C+1 needles, or both, but these compounds did not explain the variation in sawfly performance. Accumulation of phenolics is sometimes associated with the reduced foliage nitrogen (N) concentrations in deciduous trees, and our results suggest that this may also be the case in evergreen conifers. Based on the earlier findings that defoliation reduces needle N concentration and N deficiency results in the accumulation of the same phenolic compounds, i.e., myricetin and quercetin glycosides, and soluble condensed tannins, we suggest that the accumulation of phenolics in defoliated trees occurred in response to the reduced foliar N concentration.

Keywords: Diprion pini; herbivory; induced resistance; Pinus sylvestris

Journal Article.  5521 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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