In Nicotiana sylvestris Spegazzini and Comes (Solanaceae), we examined the relationships among wounding, endogenous leaf jasmonic acid (JA) pools, and whole-plain (WP) nicotine accumulation over a range of wounding intensities and spatial distributions, in order to explore optimal defence (OD) theory predictions. We quantitatively wounded one or four leaves and then quantified: (1) JA in damaged and undamaged leaves 90 min after wounding; (2) WP nicotine concentration after 5 d (the times when JA and nicotine attain the largest wound-induced concentrations). We find: (1) statistically significant, positive relationships on a leaf-by-leaf basis among the number of leaf punctures, endogenous leaf JA, and WP nicotine accumulation; (2) that young, undamaged leaves have a higher concentration of JA than do older, undamaged leaves, and produce a greater amount of JA per puncture than older leaves, but that all leaves have the same JA content (ng JA per leaf); and (3) that a damaged leaf produces less JA when other leaves in the canopy are wounded than when it is the onh wounded leaf in the canopy, but that when it is the only wounded leaf, the phylotactically adjacent, undamaged leaves do not increase their JA concentrations. The observation that younger leaves produce more JA per puncture than do older leaves is consistent with OD theory predictions. The observation that a small amount of damage localized to a single leaf is as effective as a larger amount of damage dispersed across the canopy in increasing leaf JA and WP nicotine accumulation shows the plant's ability to differentiate between dispersed and localized damage. Because the quantity of JA in a wounded leaf 90 min after wounding is a reliable indicator of the WP nicotine response to wounding, this trait provides insight into how plants integrate information about environmental insults and tailor their defence responses.
gas chromatography/mass spectrometry HPLC high performance liquid chromatography
doubly 13C-labelled jasmonic acid