Methyl jasmonate elicits rapid changes in carbon and nitrogen dynamics in tomato


Author for correspondence:
Sara Gómez
Tel: +1 617 627 4036


  • Evidence is emerging to support the notion that in response to herbivory, plants undergo changes in their primary metabolism and are able to fine-tune the allocation of new and existing resources and temporarily direct them to storage organs.
  • We hypothesized that simulated herbivory increases the export of resources out of the affected tissues and increases allocation to roots. We used short-lived radioisotopes to study in vivo the dynamics of newly incorporated 11CO2 and 13NH3. Methyl jasmonate (MeJA), a known defense elicitor, was applied to the foliage of tomato plants and 4 h later we monitored leaf uptake, export and whole-plant allocation of [11C]photosynthate and [13N]amino acids.
  • There was a marginally significant decrease in the fixation of 11CO2, and an increase in the export of newly acquired carbon and nitrogen out of MeJA-treated leaves. The proportion of nitrogen allocated to roots increased, whereas the proportion of carbon did not change.
  • These results are in agreement with our hypotheses, showing a change in the allocation of resources after treatment with MeJA; this may reduce the chance of resources being lost to herbivores and act as a buffer to biotic stress by increasing the potential for plant regrowth and survival after the attack.