Plant chemical defense: at what cost?

Elizabeth H. Neilson, Jason Q.D. Goodger, Ian E. Woodrow, Birger Lindberg Møller

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Plants are sessile organisms and dependent on deployment of secondary metabolites for their response to biotic and abiotic challenges. A trade-off is envisioned between resources allocated to growth, development, and reproduction and to the biosynthesis, storage, and maintenance of secondary metabolites. However, increasing evidence suggests that secondary metabolites serve auxiliary roles, including functions associated with primary metabolism. In this opinion article, we examine how the costs of plant chemical defense can be offset by multifunctional biosynthesis and the optimization of primary metabolism. These additional benefits may negate the trade-off between primary and secondary metabolism, and provide plants with an innate plasticity required for growth, development, and interactions with their environment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in Plant Science
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)250-258
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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