Lotte Skovmand Jensen

Student Speaker | Étudiant.e
Plants are constantly defending themselves against herbivory and coping with their surroundings. When we think of a defense, thorns and spines come to mind. However, a diverse system of chemical compounds is also produced by the plants to survive in their environment. These compounds are known as plant secondary metabolites and serve for either defending against or attracting organisms. Metabolites include alkaloids, terpenoids, and flavonoids, such as tannin. The compounds are produced in different quantities over short and long periods, but what causes this variation? Does herbivory or seasonality have a larger effect size on plant secondary metabolite production? In this study, we conducted a meta-analysis on datasets from 50 published articles that measured plant secondary metabolite content against either herbivory or seasonality (specifically, summer vs. fall). For seasonality, we supplemented with monthly weather data from local stations nearest to the collection sites (NOAA). We analyzed multiple factors (herbivore size, precipitation, temperature, plant host species) with metabolite content quantities between studies using a random effects model and meta-regression analysis. During this speed talk, I will present our key findings, discuss their implications, and hopefully introduce you to the diverse universe of plant secondary metabolites. I will also welcome feedback on the analysis from the audience.