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Diverting Resources to Turn on Resistance: Influences of Biotic and Abiotic Stresses on Aspen Seedlings Open Access


Other title
defoliator deterrence
Populus tremuloides
carbon nutrient balance hypothesis
Malacosoma disstria
phenolic glycosides
aspen reserves
growth differentiation balance hypothesis
plant defense theories
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Najar, Ahmed
Supervisor and department
Erbilgin, Nadir (Renewable Resources)
Landhausser, Simon (Renewable Resources)
Examining committee member and department
Landhausser, Simon (Renewable Resources)
Evenden, Maya (Biological Sciences)
Erbilgin, Nadir (Renewable Resources)
Roland, Jens (Biological Sciences)
Miles, Dick (Renewable Resources)
Department of Renewable Resources
Forest Biology and Management
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
The interactions between biotic and abiotic stresses and their influence on plant reserves in non-photosynthetic tissues (i.e., roots and stems) and the role of plant reserves in tree defenses are poorly understood. Aspen seedlings grown under different conditions (light, fertilizer) were grouped in three groups based on their nutrient and carbohydrate reserves. After dormancy, half of the seedlings in each group were subjected to feeding by forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria). We analyzed foliar and reserve chemistry and explained their effects on plant defenses and larval performance. We found that reserve TNC and nutrients can affect foliar TNC, Nitrogen, Carbon/Nitrogen ratio, defense chemistry, and the overall plant response to herbivory. Seedlings with high carbohydrate-to-nutrient reserve ratio had the greatest induction of defensive compounds and sustained the lowest insect damage. This study highlights the importance of plant defenses mediating the intricate relationship between plants and herbivores.
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