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Tree Physiol. 2000 May;20(9):591-598.

Temporal and spatial variation in cyanogenic glycosides in Eucalyptus cladocalyx.

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School of Botany, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia.


The release of hydrogen cyanide from endogenous cyanide-containing compounds in plants is an effective herbivore deterrent. We investigated temporal and spatial variations in cyanogenic glycoside concentration in greenhouse-grown seedlings and 6-year-old plantation trees of Eucalyptus cladocalyx F. Muell., which allocates up to 20% of leaf nitrogen to the cyanogenic glycoside, prunasin. The highest cyanogenic glycoside concentrations were in the young, developing vegetative and reproductive tissues. Both the overall cyanogenic glycoside concentration and the proportion of nitrogen allocated to cyanogenic glycoside decreased as tissues matured. Cyanogenic glycoside and nitrogen concentrations were similar at all positions on the leaf blade. There was no change in concentration of cyanogenic glycosides either diurnally or following wounding of the tissue, suggesting that these compounds are constitutive. Cyanogenic glycoside concentration varied seasonally in young leaf tips of field-grown E. cladocalyx, but not in mature, fully expanded leaves. Although some of the changes in cyanogenic glycoside concentration in young leaf tips may have been driven by changes in leaf nitrogen, there was a significant decrease in the proportion of nitrogen allocated to cyanogenic glycosides in young leaves during the summer, coinciding with the peak flowering period. Mobilization of cyanogenic glycosides may have occurred to provide nitrogen for reproduction. Most of the observed temporal and spatial variations in cyanogenic glycosides are consistent with the optimal use of resources, particularly nitrogen.

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