Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Can methyl jasmonate treatment of conifer seedlings be used as a tool to stop height growth in nursery forest trees?

Fedderwitz, Frauke; Bjorklund, Niklas; Anngren, Ronny; Lindstrom, Anders; Nordlander, Goran


A plant's induced defense system can be triggered by the application of the plant hormone methyl jasmonate (MeJA), and recent research suggest that MeJA treatment may become a tool for protection of conifer seedlings against insect herbivory (e.g. by the pine weevil Hylobius abietis). A side-effect of MeJA application is temporarily reduced height growth. This has generally been considered as negative, but in forest tree nurseries this could instead be beneficial since it is commonly desired to stop the growth of nursery seedlings in late summer. Artificially longer dark periods (long nights/short days) are widely used in high-latitude nurseries to terminate height growth and induce freezing tolerance. However, long night treatment requires specialized nursery equipment and are labor intensive. Therefore alternatives are sought after. We compared long-night and MeJA treatments by following the growth of Norway spruce (Picea abies) seedlings throughout one season. The regulatory effect of MeJA on height growth was similar if not even better than that of long nights, i.e. it was terminated faster. However, MeJA treatment also reduced root growth and delayed the development of freezing tolerance. MeJA may therefore not replace long-night treatments, but it could facilitate a more flexible application of long nights by gaining a longer time interval during which this treatment can be used without risking the seedlings growing too large.


Diameter; Forest regeneration; Freezing tolerance; Long night treatment; Picea abies; Root growth; Short day treatment

Published in

New Forests
2020, Volume: 51, number: 3, pages: 379-394
Publisher: SPRINGER

      SLU Authors

      • Associated SLU-program

        SLU Plant Protection Network

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Forest Science

        Publication Identifiers


        Permanent link to this page (URI)