Key words. defense allocation — hydroxamic acids — leaf age — optimal defense theory — rye —Secale cereale— Poaceae
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary. The among-leaves allocation of DIBOA, a hydroxamic acid associated with plant resistance, in the shoot of rye (Secale cereale) was evaluated over the vegetative development of the plant. The appropriateness of using the concentration of secondary metabolites, DIBOA in this case, as the parameter to evaluate defense allocation in plants is discussed. Both biological and statistical arguments are put forward to suggest that allocation of chemical defenses should refer to absolute content and not to concentration. Results showed that leaf age was significantly linked to leaf concentration of DIBOA, young leaves having higher concentrations. In contrast, leaf content of DIBOA, our proposed currency of allocation, was not significantly higher in younger leaves. Furthermore, a regression analysis showed that the DIBOA content of leaves was better explained by the leaf relative biomass (proportion of shoot biomass) than by leaf biomass itself. It is suggested that, rather than leaf age, leaf relative biomass is the major factor determining DIBOA allocation in rye shoots. It is proposed that studies addressing within-plant defense allocation should use chemical defense content as the currency, emphasizing the major factors driving this process and its underlying mechanisms. Likewise, it is proposed that studies aiming at characterizing optimal patterns of plant defense should use chemical defense concentration as the currency, and be accompanied by evaluations of the actual resistance against herbivores of the plant parts analyzed, together with the effect on plant fitness.
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