Modelling the Defensive Potential of Plants
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.
KeywordsStand Density Vegetation Period Allocation Rate Sink Strength Beech Tree
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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