This research focused on the effects of nitrogen fertilization on jasmonic acid accumulation and total phenolic concentrations in gerbera. The phytohormone jasmonic acid is known to regulate many plant responses, including inducible defenses against insect herbivory. Phenolics are constitutive secondary metabolites that have been shown to negatively affect insect feeding. Gerbera jamesonii `Festival Salmon Rose' plants were grown in a growth chamber and subjected to either low fertilization (only supplied with initial fertilizer charge present in professional growing media) or high fertilization (recommended rate = 200 mg·L-1 N). Plants were fertilized with 200 mL of a 15N–7P–14K fertilizer at 0 or 200 mg·L-1 N at each watering (as needed). Treatments consisted of ±mechanical wounding with a hemostat to one physiologically mature leaf and the subsequent harvest of that leaf at specified time intervals for jasmonic acid quantification. Total phenolics were measured in physiologically mature and young leaves harvested 0 and 10 hours after ±mechanical wounding. Low-fertility plants had reduced aboveground dry mass, were deficient in nitrogen and phosphorus, and had about a 10× higher concentration of total phenolics when compared to high fertility plants. In low-fertility plants, young leaves had greater concentrations of phenolics compared to physiologically mature leaves. There were no differences in total phenolics due to wounding. The effect of nitrogen fertilization on jasmonic acid accumulation will also be discussed.
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