Infoscience

Journal article

No Evidence for the Induction of Brown Algal Chemical Defense by the Phytohormones Jasmonic Acid and Methyl Jasmonate

Induced chemical defense reactions are widespread in marine brown algae. Despite the evidence that the biosynthesis of defense metabolites can be up-regulated upon herbivory, we do not know how this regulation of biosynthetic pathways to secondary metabolites is achieved in brown algae. In higher plants, the phytohormone jasmonic acid (JA) is crucial for the mediation of induced chemical defenses, and several findings of this metabolite from marine sources have been reported. We tested the hypothesis that JA or related metabolites play a role in induced brown algal defense. Quantification of oxylipins with a detection limit around 20 ng g-1 algal tissue did not reveal the presence of JA in the seven examined brown algal species Dictyota dichotoma, Colpomenia peregrina, Ectocarpus fasciculatus, Fucus vesiculosus, Himanthalia elongata, Saccharina latissima (formerly Laminaria saccharina), and Sargassum muticum. Moreover, treatment with ecologically relevant concentrations of JA and methyl jasmonate did not lead to a significant change in the profile of medium- and non-polar metabolites of the tested algae. Only when high concentrations of >= 500 mu g ml-1 medium of the phytohormones were applied that a metabolic response which could be attributed to unspecific stress was observed. Bioassays with D. dichotoma that focused on medium- and non-polar compounds confirmed the lack of a biological role of JA and methyl jasmonate in the induction of algal induced chemical defenses. The phytohormone-treated samples did not exhibit any increased defense potential towards the amphipod Ampithoe longimana and the isopod Paracerceis caudata. JA and related phytohormones, known to be active in higher plants, thus appear to play no role in brown algae for induction of the defense chemicals studied here.

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