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Tree Physiol. 2008 Jan;28(1):29-35.

Methyl jasmonate and oxalic acid treatment of Norway spruce: anatomically based defense responses and increased resistance against fungal infection.

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  • 1Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute, P.O. Box 155, 1431 As, Norway.


To study the effect of chemical pretreatment on conifer resistance, 13-year-old Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) trees were treated with methyl jasmonate (MJ) or oxalic acid (OxA) on the outer bark and inoculated with the pathogenic blue-stain fungus Ceratocystis polonica (Siem.) C. Moreau 4 weeks later. Both chemicals significantly reduced symptoms of fungal infection, but MJ was more effective than OxA (51 versus 18% reduction in length of necrotic lesions in the phloem relative to untreated control trees). Anatomical examination of treated stem tissues showed that MJ induced extensive formation of traumatic resin ducts in the xylem and extra polyphenolic parenchyma (PP) cells in the secondary phloem between the cambium and the regular annual PP cell layer. No traumatic resin ducts were formed after treatment with OxA, and the coverage of extra PP cells in OxA-treated tissues was not significantly higher than in the controls. The anatomically based defense reactions induced by MJ were similar to the reactions observed after pathogen infection, mechanical wounding and bark beetle attack. Neither MJ nor OxA had apparent phytotoxic effects on Norway spruce at the concentrations used, with needle and stem tissues of all trees appearing normal without visible symptoms of toxicity. However, trees treated with MJ had 30% less radial sapwood growth than control trees. In conclusion, MJ treatment of Norway spruce appears to have practical potential as a tool for increasing plant resistance to fungal infection, but with a modest reduction in sapwood growth.

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