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Stability of genetic-based defensive chemistry across life stages in a Eucalyptus species


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O’Reilly-Wapstra, J ORCID: 0000-0003-4801-4412, Humphreys, JR and Potts, BM 2007 , 'Stability of genetic-based defensive chemistry across life stages in a Eucalyptus species' , Journal of Chemical Ecology, vol. 33 , pp. 1876-1884 , doi: 10.1007/s10886-007-9366-2.

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Defensive chemistry is a key plant fitness trait, and the investigation of the
expression of plant secondary metabolites across life stages is important in understanding the
lifetime evolutionary selection pressures on a plant. The expression of genetic-based differences
in foliar defensive chemistry, known to influence mammalian herbivore preferences, was
studied across two contrasting life phases of the heteroblastic tree, Eucalyptus globulus. With
plants from different subraces of E. globulus growing in a field trial, we compared the levels
of seven chemical constituents in adult and juvenile foliage from related coppiced plants.
Defensive chemistry was generally higher in more vulnerable coppice foliage than adult
foliage. Significant, genetic-based differences among subraces were detected for two key
defensive chemicals, a sideroxylonal and a macrocarpal, and these differences were stable
across life phases. In contrast, significant differences among subraces in adult leaf condensed
tannins were not evident in the coppice because of the absence of this group of tannins in this
foliage. These findings lend support to hypotheses that suggest condensed tannins may have
evolved for reasons other than mammalian herbivore defense.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:O’Reilly-Wapstra, J and Humphreys, JR and Potts, BM
Keywords: Genetic variation . Heteroblasty . Ontogeny . Plant secondary metabolites
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Chemical Ecology
DOI / ID Number: 10.1007/s10886-007-9366-2
Additional Information:

BM Potts. The original publication is available at

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