Environmental effects on constitutive and inducible resin defences of Pinus taeda


Matthew P. Ayres Present address: Departmento de Producción Vegetal, Universidad de Santiago, Escuela Polotécnica Superior, Campus de Lugo, 27002 Lugo, Spain.E-mail: matthew.p.ayres@ dartmouth.edu


The ecological literature abounds with studies of environmental effects on plant antiherbivore defences. While various models have been proposed (e.g. plant stress, optimal allocation, growth-differentiation balance), each has met with mixed support. One possible explanation for the mixed results is that constitutive and induced defences are differentially affected by environmental conditions. In this study, constitutive oleoresin flow from Pinus tadea was least during periods of rapid tree growth and most when drought conditions limited growth; this is as expected if constitutive secondary metabolism is a function of the carbohydrate pool size after growth has been maximised. Induced increases in resin flow, however, were greatest in the fastest growing trees during the season of greatest growth. Apparently, resin production becomes an allocation priority after wounding but not before. Understanding environmental effects on plant antiherbivore defences requires physiological and evolutionary models that account for the differences between constitutive and induced secondary metabolism.