Genus-wide variation in foliar polyphenolics in eucalypts

Marsh, Karen J., Kulheim, Carsten, Blomberg, Simon P., Thornhill, Andrew H., Miller, Joseph T., Wallis, Ian R., Nicolle, Dean, Salminen, Juha-Pekka, and Foley, William J. (2017) Genus-wide variation in foliar polyphenolics in eucalypts. Phytochemistry, 144. pp. 197-207.

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Many studies quantify total phenolics or total tannins, but understanding the ecological role of polyphenolic secondary metabolites requires at least an understanding of the diversity of phenolic groups present. We used UPLC-MS/MS to measure concentrations of different polyphenol groups - including the four most common tannin groups, the three most common flavonoid groups, and quinic acid derivatives - in foliage from 628 eucalypts from the genera Eucalyptus, Angophora and Corymbia. We also tested for phylogenetic signal in each of the phenolic groups. Many eucalypts contained high concentrations of polyphenols, particularly ellagitannins, which have been relatively poorly studied, but may possess strong oxidative activity. Because the biosynthetic pathways of many phenolic compounds share either precursors or enzymes, we found negative correlations between the concentrations of several of the constituents that we measured, including proanthocyanidins (PAs) and hydrolysable tannins (HTs), HTs and flavonol derivatives, and HTs and quinic acid derivatives. We observed moderate phylogenetic signal in all polyphenol constituents, apart from the concentration of the prodelphinidin subunit of PAs and the mean degree of polymerisation of PAs. These two traits, which have previously been shown to be important in determining plants' protein precipitation capacity, may have evolved under selection, perhaps in response to climate or herbivore pressure. Hence, the signature of evolutionary history appears to have been erased for these traits. This study is an important step in moving away from analysing “totals” to a better understanding of how phylogenetic effects influence phenolic composition, and how this in turn influences ecological processes.

Item ID: 52071
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-3700
Keywords: condensed tannins, hydrolysable tannins, flavonol derivatives, phenolic composition, eucalypts, phylogenetics, plant defence
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), Academy of Finland (AF)
Projects and Grants: ARC grant DE120101263, ARC grant DP0986142, AF grant 258992
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2018 05:32
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310303 Ecological physiology @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3104 Evolutionary biology > 310410 Phylogeny and comparative analysis @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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