Modelling the Defensive Potential of Plants

  • S. GaylerEmail author
  • E. Priesack
  • F. Fleischmann
  • W. Heller
  • T. Rötzer
  • T. Seifert
  • R. Matyssek
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 220)


Many products of the phenylpropanoid pathway play an important role in plant defence against different kinds of biotic and abiotic stress. The “growth–differentiation balance theory” is a conceptual framework to predict how environmental factors can influence the level of these compounds in plant tissues. In this chapter, we unveil fundamental difficulties in testing the explanatory capacity of this theory by experiments and present the potential of mechanistic modelling to support empirical evidence in this field. In different examples, the plant growth model PLATHO is used to analyse observed patterns of plant responses to experimental treatments through simulating allocation rates between different biochemical pools from plant internal source and sink strengths of carbon and nitrogen during different phenological growth stages. It is shown that divergent responses of plants to abiotic factors such as elevated CO2 are feasible with respect to allocation to carbon-based secondary compounds, depending on ecological conditions under which plants are growing.


Stand Density Vegetation Period Allocation Rate Sink Strength Beech Tree 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are grateful to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft which funded this study within the frame of Sonderforschungsbereich 607 Growth and Parasite Defence – Competition for Resources in Economic Plants from Forestry and Agronomy. We further gratefully thank Thorsten Grams for providing growth parameters of beech and spruce trees from different experimental studies and Axel Göttlein for providing data of nutrient concentrations in organs of juvenile beech trees.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Gayler
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • E. Priesack
    • 1
  • F. Fleischmann
    • 3
  • W. Heller
    • 4
  • T. Rötzer
    • 5
  • T. Seifert
    • 6
  • R. Matyssek
    • 7
  1. 1.Institute of Soil EcologyHelmholtz Zentrum MünchenNeuherbergGermany
  2. 2.Water & Earth System Science (WESS) Competence Clusterc/o University of TübingenTübingenGermany
  3. 3.Pathology of Woody PlantsTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany
  4. 4.Institute of Biochemical Plant PathologyHelmholtz Zentrum MünchenNeuherbergGermany
  5. 5.Chair for Forest Growth and Yield ScienceTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany
  6. 6.Department of Forest and Wood ScienceStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa
  7. 7.Chair of Ecophysiology of PlantsTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany

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