Spatial and seasonal chemistry variation in Jacobaea vulgaris

R. Heirman, S. de Carvalho

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterProfessional


Knowledge on plant chemistry variation is important to assess spatio-temporal dynamics of plant nutrient and defence allocation in natural conditions. Here we investigated seasonal shifts in primary and secondary chemistry of Jacobaea vulgaris and its relation to the stage of secondary succession. We used a chronosequence of abandoned arable fields as space for time substitution and analyzed the chemical content for both leaf and flower organs, as these may differ in chemical defence during plant life history development and environment/evolutionary pressures. The chemical concentration of J. vulgaris varied throughout the season and was affected by the vegetation succession stage. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) tertiary-amines were higher in flowers during early Summer and in fields that had been abandoned ten to twenty years ago. PA N-oxide concentrations of both leaf and flowers increased with the progression of the growing season and secondary succession. Chlorophyll a was higher than chlorophyll b in Spring and in plants from early succession fields. The differences in PA composition and concentration of leaves and flowers provide some evidence for optimum defence strategy with flowers better defended in early Summer. Our results suggest that the contribution of plant metabolites to aboveground defence will vary with successional position as well as season. This suggests differential selection by the biotic environments, leading to optimize defences for the particular interactions, season * succession (abandoned fields). The substitution of space for time provided important insights on the J. vulgaris spatial temporal processes related to organ defence and nutritional allocation in semi-natural environments.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventNetherlands Annual Ecology Meeting 2013 - Lunteren, Netherlands
Duration: 5 Feb 20136 Feb 2013


ConferenceNetherlands Annual Ecology Meeting 2013


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