Methyl jasmonate does not induce changes in Eucalyptus grandis leaves that alter the effect of constitutive defences on larvae of a specialist herbivore

M. L. Henery, I. R. Wallis, C. Stone, W. J. Foley

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    43 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The up-regulation of secondary metabolic pathways following herbivore attack and the subsequent reduction in herbivore performance have been identified in numerous woody plant species. Eucalypts constitutively express many secondary metabolites in the leaves, including terpenes and formylated phloroglucinol compounds (FPCs). We used clonal ramets from six clones of Eucalyptus grandis and two clones of E. grandis × camaldulensis to determine if methyl jasmonate (MeJA) treatment could induce changes in the foliar concentrations of either of these groups of compounds. We also used bioassays to determine if any changes in the performance of larvae of Paropsis atomaria, a chrysomelid leaf beetle, could be detected in treated ramets versus the untreated controls, thus indicating whether MeJA induced the up-regulation of defences other than terpenes or FPCs. We found no significant effects of MeJA treatment on either the foliar concentrations of terpenes and FPCs or on herbivore performance. We did, however, detect dramatic differences in larval performance between Eucalyptus clones, thereby demonstrating large variations in the levels of constitutive defence. Larval feeding on clones resistant to P. atomaria resulted in high first instar mortality and disruption of normal gregarious feeding behaviour in surviving larvae. Histological examination of larvae feeding on a resistant clone revealed damage to the midgut consistent with the action of a toxin. These findings concur with mounting evidence that most evergreen perennial plants lack foliar-induced defences and suggest that constitutively expressed secondary metabolites other than those commonly examined in studies of interactions between insect herbivores and Eucalyptus may be important in plant defence.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)847-859
    Number of pages13
    JournalOecologia
    Volume156
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008

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