Aspen Bibliography


Causes and Consequences of Condensed Tannin Variation in Populus

Document Type

Contribution to Book

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Recent Advances in Polyphenol Research


John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Last Page


Publication Date



Condensed tannins (CTs), synthesized via the phenylpropanoid and malonic acid pathways, occur in Populus tissues at widely varying concentrations. Both concentration and molecular structure are determined by the independent and interactive effects of genetic, ontogenetic, and environmental factors that influence molecular control of CT synthesis, other secondary metabolite production, and plant growth. CTs have a limited role in defending Populus against herbivores, but are associated with pathogen resistance, structuring of herbivore and soil microbial communities, and regulation of soil ecosystem processes (e.g. respiration, decomposition, nutrient cycling) with feedbacks to plant fitness. Shifts in CT expression and distribution resulting from human-mediated environmental changes are likely to alter organismal interactions, community and ecosystem functions, and evolutionary processes. Future research should aim to strengthen understanding of causal connections between CTs and their biological effects across scales of organization, space and time, and to elucidate how environmental change influences CT production, biochemical tradeoffs, and interrelationships with plant fitness that drive evolutionary processes.