Differences in volatile terpene composition between the bark and leaves of tropical tree species
Volatile terpenes are among the most diverse class of defensive compounds in plants, and they are implicated in both direct and indirect defense against herbivores. In terpenes, both the quantity and the diversity of compounds appear to increase the efficiency of defense as a diverse blend of compounds provides a more efficient protection against a broader range of herbivores and limits the chances that an enemy evolves resistance. Theory predicts that plant defensive compounds should be allocated differentially among tissues according to the value of the tissue, its cost of construction and the herbivore pressure on it. We collected volatile terpenes from bark and leaves of 178 individual tree belonging to 55 angiosperm species in French Guiana and compare the kind, amount, and diversity of compounds in these tissues. We hypothesized that in woody plants, the outermost part of the trunk should hold a more diverse blend of volatile terpenes. Additionally, as herbivore communities associated with the leaves is different to the one associated with the bark, we also hypothesized that terpene blends should be distinct in the bark vs. the leaves of a given species. We found that the mixture of volatile terpenes released by bark is different and more diverse than that released by leaves, both in monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes. This supports our hypothesis and further suggests that the emission of terpenes by the bark should be more important for trunk defense than previously thought. A study on 55 tropical tree species indicate that bark hold a distinct and more diverse blend of volatile terpenes than leaves. âº We measured volatile terpenes in bark and leaves of 55 tropical tree species. âº The blend released by bark is more diverse than that released by leaves. âº Bark terpene composition is different than leaves terpene composition.