Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2004Peer reviewed

Combined effects of elevated CO2 and herbivore damage on alfalfa and cotton

Agrell J, Anderson P, Oleszek W, Stochmal A, Agrell C


We examined herbivore-induced responses of alfalfa (Medicago sativa) and cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) under different CO2 conditions. Plants were grown under ambient (350 ppm) or elevated (700 ppm) CO2 levels, and were either damaged or undamaged by Spodoptera littoralis larvae. At harvest, growth of undamaged (control) plants was determined, and foliar chemical composition of both undamaged and damaged plants was analyzed. Cotton grew faster overall and showed a greater increase in growth in response to CO2 enrichment than did alfalfa. Elevated CO2 levels increased starch and decreased nitrogen levels in damaged alfalfa and undamaged cotton plants. Alfalfa saponin levels were significantly increased by elevated CO2 and damage. Regarding specific saponins, medicagenic acid bidesmoside (3GlcA,28AraRhaXyl medicagenate) concentrations were reduced by high CO2, whereas zanhic acid tridesmoside (3GlcGlcGlc,23Ara,28AraRhaXylApi Za) levels were unaffected by the treatments. Soyasaponin I (3GlcAGalRha soyasapogenol B) was only detected in minute amounts. Alfalfa flavonoid analyses showed that total flavonoid levels were similar between treatments, although free apigenin increased and apigenin glucoside (7-O-[2-O-feruloyl-beta-D-glucuronopyranozyl (1-->2)-O-beta-D-glucuronopyranozyl]-4'-O-beta-D-glucuronopyranozide apigenin) decreased in CO2-enriched plants. In cotton, herbivore damage increased levels of total terpenoid aldehydes, gossypol, hemigossypolone, the heliocides H1 and H4, but not H2 and H3, whereas CO2 enrichment had no effect. These results demonstrate that combined effects of CO2 and herbivore damage vary between plant species, which has implications for the competitive balance within plant communities

Published in

Journal of Chemical Ecology
2004, Volume: 30, number: 11, pages: 2309-2324

      SLU Authors

    • Anderson, Peter

      • Department of Crop Science, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science
    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)