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Tree Physiol. 2003 Apr;23(6):361-71.

Methyl jasmonate induces changes mimicking anatomical defenses in diverse members of the Pinaceae.

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School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman 99164-4236, USA.


Conifers have defenses such as the production of phenolic compounds and resins that can be induced by bark beetles and other invading organisms, but the signaling agents involved are unknown. The anatomical effects of methyl jasmonate (MJ), a potent inducer of certain plant defenses, were compared with wounding of the bark of 12-15-year-old trees of five conifer species. Wounding in all species resulted in tissue necrosis and wound periderm development immediately around the wound site. One cm from the wound, swelling of phloem polyphenolic parenchyma cells and phenolic accumulation were observed in Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco, Picea pungens Engelman, Larix occidentalis Nutt. and Pinus monticola Douglas ex D. Don, but not in Taxus brevifolia Nutt. Traumatic resin ducts were formed in response to wounding in three species of Pinaceae, but not in P. monticola, which formed irregular clusters of cells rather than ducts. Taxus brevifolia did not form resin ducts in response to either wounding or MJ treatment. In the Pinaceae species studied, surface application of 100 mM MJ caused similar anatomical changes to those observed in response to wounding, including phenolic accumulation, cell swelling and traumatic resin duct formation, but it did not induce a wound periderm. Traumatic resin ducts differed in size among the study species, ranging from small in L. occidentalis to very large in P. menziesii. In P. menziesii, P. pungens and L. occidentalis, traumatic resin ducts were more abundant after MJ treatment than after wounding. We conclude that the octadecanoid pathway is likely involved in defense responses in stems of the Pinaceae, but not necessarily in other taxa.

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