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Keywords:

  • Galicia;
  • herbivory;
  • maritime pine;
  • nutrient stress;
  • plant resistance to insects;
  • plant–insect interactions

Abstract

We studied the effects of phosphorus fertilisation on foliar terpene concentrations and foliar volatile terpene emission rates in six half-sib families of Pinus pinaster Ait. seedlings. Half of the seedlings were resistant to attack of the pine weevil Hylobius abietis L., a generalist phloem feeder, and the remaining seedlings were susceptible to this insect. We hypothesised that P stress could modify the terpene concentration in the needles and thus lead to altered terpene emission patterns relevant to plant–insect signalling. The total concentration and emission rate ranged between 5732 and 13,995 μg·g−1 DW and between 2 and 22 μg·g−1 DW·h−1, respectively. Storage and emission were dominated by the isomers α- and β-pinene (77.2% and 84.2% of the total terpene amount amassed and released, respectively). In both resistant and susceptible families, P stress caused an increase of 31% in foliar terpene concentration with an associated 5-fold decrease in terpene emission rates. A higher terpene content in the leaves implies that the ‘excess carbon’, available under limiting growth conditions (P scarcity), is allocated to terpene production. Sensitive families showed a greater increase in terpene emission rates with increasing P concentrations, which could explain their susceptibility to H. abietis.