Induced sink strength as a prerequisite for induced tannin biosynthesis in developing leaves of Populus
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Induced defenses occur predominately in young, developing plant tissues that rely upon carbohydrate import to support their growth and development. To test the hypothesis that the induced production of carbon-based defenses is dependent upon photoassimilate import, we examined the response of developing leaves of hybrid poplar (Populus deltoides × P. nigra) saplings to wounding by gypsy moth caterpillars (Lymantria dispar L.) and exogenous jasmonic acid (JA). Growth rates, condensed tannin contents and acid invertase activities were measured for individual leaves and the translocation of 13C-labeled resources between orthostichous source-sink pairs was quantified. Results showed a substantial increase in the activity of cell wall invertase in sink leaves wounded by gypsy moth caterpillars and treated with JA. JA-induced sink leaves also imported 3–4 times as much 13C-labeled carbon from orthostichous source leaves relative to controls and allocated a significant portion of this imported 13C to condensed tannin biosynthesis. Reduced carbohydrate flow to these leaves, caused by source leaf removal, resulted in reduced condensed tannin levels and the emergence of a growth–defense tradeoff. These results indicate that (1) induced sink strength is elicited by insect wounding and JA application in hybrid poplar foliage, (2) imported resources are allocated to the production of carbon-based defenses, and (3) the level of induced defense in leaves can be constrained by the ability of leaves to import carbohydrates from source tissues. Together, these results suggest that within-canopy variations in induced resistance may arise in part because of uneven distribution of resources to induced foliage.
KeywordsTannin biosynthesis Sink strength Populus Plant defense
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