Thigmomorphogenesis: The role of ethylene in the response of Pinus taeda and Abies fraseri to mechanical perturbation


F. W. Telewski (reprint requests)


Ethylene production was monitored for 48 h in two half-sibs of Pinus taeda L. grown in the greenhouse and given mechanical perturbation (MP) by flexing; and for 22 h in Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poir, grown in the field and exposed to wind-mediated MP. Both species produced a peak of ethylene 18 h after MP. Seedlings of P. taeda exposed to MP for the duration of the growing season (preconditioned) produced less ethylene compared to non-MP controls, with a peak production at 8 h. One half-sib which responded to MP by an increase in radial growth produced 16 times more ethylene than another half-sib which had no significant change in radial growth. Preconditioned A. fraseri produced no significant quantities of ethylene after MP. The production of wound ethylene appears to be different from MP-induced ethylene. When an ethylene-generating solution was applied to P. taeda seedlings, it mimicked many of the morphological and mechanical characteristics of MP seedlings. The putative role of ethylene in the thigmomorphogenetic response is addressed.