, Volume 156, Issue 4, pp 847–859 | Cite as

Methyl jasmonate does not induce changes in Eucalyptus grandis leaves that alter the effect of constitutive defences on larvae of a specialist herbivore

  • M. L. HeneryEmail author
  • I. R. Wallis
  • C. Stone
  • W. J. Foley
Plant-Animal Interactions - Original Paper


The up-regulation of secondary metabolic pathways following herbivore attack and the subsequent reduction in herbivore performance have been identified in numerous woody plant species. Eucalypts constitutively express many secondary metabolites in the leaves, including terpenes and formylated phloroglucinol compounds (FPCs). We used clonal ramets from six clones of Eucalyptus grandis and two clones of E. grandis × camaldulensis to determine if methyl jasmonate (MeJA) treatment could induce changes in the foliar concentrations of either of these groups of compounds. We also used bioassays to determine if any changes in the performance of larvae of Paropsis atomaria, a chrysomelid leaf beetle, could be detected in treated ramets versus the untreated controls, thus indicating whether MeJA induced the up-regulation of defences other than terpenes or FPCs. We found no significant effects of MeJA treatment on either the foliar concentrations of terpenes and FPCs or on herbivore performance. We did, however, detect dramatic differences in larval performance between Eucalyptus clones, thereby demonstrating large variations in the levels of constitutive defence. Larval feeding on clones resistant to P. atomaria resulted in high first instar mortality and disruption of normal gregarious feeding behaviour in surviving larvae. Histological examination of larvae feeding on a resistant clone revealed damage to the midgut consistent with the action of a toxin. These findings concur with mounting evidence that most evergreen perennial plants lack foliar-induced defences and suggest that constitutively expressed secondary metabolites other than those commonly examined in studies of interactions between insect herbivores and Eucalyptus may be important in plant defence.


Induced resistance Phenolics Plant–insect interactions Terpenes 



We thank Ulrike Mathesius for assistance with the protease inhibition assays and Tony Ashton for advice on protein extraction from eucalypts. The clonal eucalypts were propagated and grown by Helen Smith and Chris Moran at Forests NSW, Tree Improvement Group, Grafton. Jeff Wood assisted with statistical analyses. Martin Henery was financially supported by the Australian Research Council and Forests NSW. The work was funded by a grant from the Australian Research Council to WJF. We declare that the experiments described above comply with the current laws of Australia.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. L. Henery
    • 1
    Email author
  • I. R. Wallis
    • 1
  • C. Stone
    • 2
  • W. J. Foley
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Botany and ZoologyThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Forest Resources ResearchBeecroftAustralia

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