, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 499-520

Distribution of birch (Betula SPP.), willow (Salix SPP.), and poplar (Populus SPP.) secondary metabolites and their potential role as chemical defense against herbivores

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Abstract

Isoprenoids and phenolics, major metabolites of important browse species, are reviewed in regard to concentrations, distribution within tissues, and between species. Seasonal variation of specific substances and changes with age of the plant are also considered. The distribution of substances may affect food selection and feeding behavior of animals. Wild mammalian herbivores tend to avoid plant parts rich in these substances, in spite of high nutritional content of the plant tissue. Possible mechanisms for defense by plants against depredation by mammalian herbivores are discussed within the framework of the plants' biochemistry.