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Phytochemicals Involved in Plant Resistance to Leporids and Cervids: a Systematic Review

Formally Refereed
Authors: Emilie Champagne, Alejandro A. Royo, Jean-Pierre Tremblay, Patricia Raymond
Year: 2019
Type: Scientific Journal
Station: Northern Research Station
Source: Journal of Chemical Ecology


Non-nutritive phytochemicals (secondary metabolites and fibre) can influence plant resistance to herbivores and have ecological impacts on animal and plant population dynamics.Amajor hindrance to the ecological study of these phytochemicals is the uncertainty in the compounds one should measure, especially when limited by cost and expertise.With the underlying goal of identifying proxies of plant resistance to herbivores, we performed a systematic review of the effects of non-nutritive phytochemicals on consumption by leporids (rabbits and hares) and cervids (deer family).We identified 133 out of 1790 articles that fit our selection criteria (leporids = 33, cervids = 97, both herbivore types = 3). These articles cover 18 species of herbivores, on four continents. The most prevalent group of phytochemicals in the selected articles was phenolics, followed by terpenes for leporids and by fibre for cervids. In general, the results were variable but phenolic concentration seems linked with high resistance to both types of herbivores. Terpene concentration is also linked to high plant resistance; this relationship seems driven by total terpene content for cervids and specific terpenes for leporids. Tannins and fibre did not have a consistent positive effect on plant resistance. Because of the high variability in results reported and the synergistic effects of phytochemicals, we propose that the choice of chemical analyses must be tightly tailored to research objectives. While researchers pursuing ecological or evolutionary objectives should consider multiple specific analyses, researchers in applied studies could focus on a fewer number of specific analyses. An improved consideration of plant defence, based onmeaningful chemical analyses, could improve studies of plant resistance and allow us to predict novel or changing plant-herbivore interactions.


Secondarymetabolites, Deer, Hare, Diet selection, Defensemetabolite, Secondary compound


Champagne, Emilie; Royo, Alejandro A.; Tremblay, Jean-Pierre; Raymond, Patricia. 2019. Phytochemicals Involved in Plant Resistance to Leporids and Cervids: a Systematic Review. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 46: 84-98.