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Effects of nitrogen supply on growth, contents of phenolic compounds and pathogen (scab) resistance of apple trees

Authors

  • Christof Leser,

    1. Institute of Fruit Science, Centre of Life and Food Sciences Weihenstephan, Technische Universität München, Alte Akademie 16, D-85350 Freising, Germany
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  • Dieter Treutter

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Fruit Science, Centre of Life and Food Sciences Weihenstephan, Technische Universität München, Alte Akademie 16, D-85350 Freising, Germany
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  • Edited by J. I. Sprent

e-mail: dieter.treutter@wzw.tum.de

Abstract

The effect of long-term N-supply on growth, scab resistance and phenolic compounds in the leaves of two apple cultivars was studied. The different pools of phenylpropanoids (hydroxycinnamic acids, dihydrochalcones) and flavonoids (flavonols, catechins, procyanidins) were quanitfied by HPLC from non-infected and inoculated leaves representing different ontogenetic stages. Scab incidence was also evaluated. Strictly following the carbon-nutrient-balance hypothesis, apple trees responded to high N-supply with increased shoot growth and with a reduced accumulation of total phenolic compounds in their leaves. This was shown for the cultivar ‘Golden Delicious’, which is susceptible to the scab disease caused by Venturia inaequalis, and for the resistant cultivar ‘Rewena’. Whereas high N-fertilization increased the susceptibility of ‘Golden Delicious’, it did not decrease the resistance of ‘Rewena’ despite of the pronounced reduction of phenolic concentrations. Thus, a simple C trade off between growth-related metabolism and secondary metabolism cannot solely explain changes in defensive potential.

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