Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 416–430 | Cite as

A Seven-Year Study of Phenolic Concentrations of the Dioecious Salix myrsinifolia

  • Katri Nissinen
  • Virpi Virjamo
  • Lauri Mehtätalo
  • Anu Lavola
  • Anu Valtonen
  • Line Nybakken
  • Riitta Julkunen-Tiitto


In boreal woody plants, concentrations of defensive phenolic compounds are expected to be at a high level during the juvenile phase and decrease in maturity, although there is variation between plant species. Females of dioecious species, like most of the Salicaceae, are expected to invest their resources in defense and reproduction, while males are expected to be more growth-oriented. We studied age- and sex-dependent changes in leaf and stem phenolics, and in height and diameter growth in a dioecious Salix myrsinifolia plants over a seven-year time period. In addition, we registered flowering as well as rust damage in the leaves. From the first year and throughout ontogenetic development from juvenile to adult phases, there was no significant change in the concentrations of any of the studied compounds in the leaves of S. myrsinifolia. In the stems, the concentrations of six out of 43 identified compounds decreased slightly with age, which may be partly explained by dilution caused by the increment in stem diameter with age. The fairly steady chemistry level over seven years, accompanied by moderate genotypic phenolic variation, indicates important roles of chemical defenses against herbivory for this early-successional species.


Salix myrsinifolia Dark-leaved willow Melampsora Sexual differences Herbivory Tremulacin Salicin Salicortin Tannins Phenolic compounds 



Our sincere thanks are owed to Sinikka Sorsa, Hannele Hakulinen, Riitta Pietarinen and Outi Nousiainen for their help with laboratory analyses and Mervi Kupari, Teija Ruuhola, Anneli Salonen, Norul Sobuj, Meeri Koivuniemi, Riia Hörkkä, Anu Ovaskainen and Henna-Riikka Leppänen for their help with field measurements, leaf and stem sampling and in rust and herbivory damage assessment. We are also indebted to the reviewers for their valuable and thorough comments on the manuscript. The English language of the article was checked by Rosemary Mackenzie. This work was financed by the Academy of Finland (no. 267360).

Supplementary material

10886_2018_942_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (234 kb)
Table S1 Dates of height and diameter growth measurements and sampling of the leaves and stems of Salix myrsinifolia during 2007–2013. (PDF 234 kb)
10886_2018_942_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (263 kb)
Table S2 Parameter estimates of the linear mixed-effect models for different phenolic compound concentrations in leaves and stems and leaf size parameters of Salix myrsinifolia during a seven-year period. “Age==1” denotes the first year, “SexM” male sex, “Age:Sex” interaction of age and sex and “der” derivative. (PDF 262 kb)
10886_2018_942_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (413 kb)
Figure S3 Results of the principal component analysis (PCA) of the Salix myrsinifolia leaf phenolics. An overview of the distribution of all the observations in the dataset (all the individual S. myrsinifolia plants in seven-year time) according to their leaf phytochemical concentrations in the score scatter plots, where differently colored groups represent genotypes in (A), sexes in (B), years in (C) and rust-infection severity classes in D. Distribution of phytochemical compounds is shown in the loading plot (E), where individual compounds are labeled by the phenolic group they belong to: salicylates (squares), phenolic acids (circles), flavonoids (diamonds) and condensed tannins (triangles). (PDF 413 kb)
10886_2018_942_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (515 kb)
Figure S4 Results of the principal component analysis (PCA) of Salix myrsinifolia stem phenolics. An overview of the distribution of all the observations in the dataset (all the individual S. myrsinifolia plants in four different years) according to their stem phytochemical concentrations in the score scatter plots, where differently colored groups represent genotypes in (A), sexes in (B) and years in (C). Distribution of phytochemical compounds is shown in the loading plot (D), where individual compounds are labeled by the phenolic group they belong to: salicylates (squares), phenolic acids (circles), flavonoids (diamonds), phenolic glycosides (overturned triangles) and condensed tannins (triangles). (PDF 514 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental and Biological SciencesUniversity of Eastern Finland (UEF)JoensuuFinland
  2. 2.School of ComputingUniversity of Eastern FinlandJoensuuFinland
  3. 3.Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource ManagementNorwegian University of Life SciencesÅsNorway

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