Rapid Changes in Tree Leaf Chemistry Induced by Damage: Evidence for Communication Between Plants

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Science  15 Jul 1983:
Vol. 221, Issue 4607, pp. 277-279
DOI: 10.1126/science.221.4607.277


Potted poplar ramets showed increased concentrations and rates of synthesis of phenolic compounds within 52 hours of having 7 percent of their leaf area removed by tearing, as did undamaged plants sharing the same enclosure. Damaged sugar maple seedlings responded in a manner similar to that of the damaged poplars. Nearby undamaged maples had increased levels of phenolics and hydrolyzable and condensed tannin within 36 hours, but exhibited no change in rates of synthesis. An airborne cue originating in damaged tissues may stimulate biochemical changes in neighboring plants that could influence the feeding and growth of phytophagous insects.

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