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CHEMOECOLOGY

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 133–139 | Cite as

Biosynthetic origin of carbon-based secondary compounds: cause of variable responses of woody plants to fertilization?

  • Erkki Haukioja
  • Vladimir Ossipov
  • Julia Koricheva
  • Tuija Honkanen
  • Stig Larsson
  • Kyösti Lempa

Summary.

We propose that variation in the responses of carbon-based secondary compounds to fertilization in woody plants has a biosynthetic cause. The synthesis of phenylpropanoids and derived compounds (e.g., condensed tannins) competes directly with the synthesis of proteins, and therefore with plant growth, because of a common precursor, phenylalanine. In contrast, the biosynthesis of terpenoids and of hydrolyzable tannins proceeds presumably without direct competition with protein synthesis. Therefore, accelerated plant growth induced by fertilization may cause a reduction in concentrations of phenylpropanoids but may affect less or not at all the levels of other classes of secondary compounds. A meta-analysis based on fertilization experiments with 35 woody plant species supported the predicted differences fertilizing significantly decreased concentrations of phenylpropanoids but not of terpenoids or hydrolyzable tannins.

Key words. carbon/nutrient balance hypothesis – growth-defense trade-offs – growth/differentiation balance hypothesis – herbivory – meta-analysis 

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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel, 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erkki Haukioja
    • 1
  • Vladimir Ossipov
    • 2
  • Julia Koricheva
    • 1
  • Tuija Honkanen
    • 1
  • Stig Larsson
    • 3
  • Kyösti Lempa
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Turku, FIN-20014 Turku, Finland. E-mail: haukioja@utu.fiFI
  2. 2.Laboratory of Physical Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, University of Turku, FIN-20014 Turku, FinlandFI
  3. 3.Department of Entomology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, P.O. Box 7044, S-750 07 Uppsala, SwedenSE

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