Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 195–212 | Cite as


  • RIITTA KOIVIKKOEmail author


Phlorotannins are ubiquitous secondary metabolites in brown algae that are phenotypically plastic and suggested to have multiple ecological roles. Traditionally, phlorotannins have been quantified as total soluble phlorotannins. Here, we modify a quantification procedure to measure, for the first time, the amount of cell-wall-bound phlorotannins. We also optimize the quantification of soluble phlorotannins. We use these methods to study the responses of soluble and cell-wall-bound phlorotannin to nutrient enrichment in growing and nongrowing parts of the brown alga Fucus vesiculosus. We also examine the effects of nutrient shortage and herbivory on the rate of phlorotannin exudation. Concentrations of cell-wall-bound phlorotannins were much lower than concentrations of soluble phlorotannins; we also found that nutrient treatment over a period of 41 days affected only soluble phlorotannins. Concentrations of each phlorotannin type correlated positively between growing and nongrowing parts of individual seaweeds. However, within nongrowing thalli, soluble and cell-wall-bound phlorotannins were negatively correlated, whereas within growing thalli there was no correlation. Phlorotannins were exuded from the thallus in all treatments. Herbivory increased exudation, while a lack of nutrients had no effect on exudation. Because the amount of cell-wall-bound phlorotannins is much smaller than the amount of soluble phlorotannins, the major function of phlorotannins appears to be a secondary one.

Key Words

Phenolics phlorotannins plant defense Fucus vesiculosus brown alga cell-wall-bound exudation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
    • 2
    • 1
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Ecology, Department of BiologyUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  2. 2.Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry, Department of ChemistryUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland

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