New paper – Screening Study of Leaf Terpene Concentration of 75 Borneo Rainforest Plant Species: Relationships with Leaf Elemental Concentrations and Morphology

Text by Lauri Laanisto

That data publication is really a bit of a blast from the past. Although it was published in 2015, this manuscript describing terpenes found from 75 common tree species growing in Borneo was first submitted to this hipster journal  (who has heard about this Turkish journal before?) Records of Natural Products back in 2011. It´s a descriptive study, just listing all the compounds found in each species. It might become a useful source of information in the future, for example when someone decides to conduct a meta-study about terpenes or something like that. There is always shortage of tropical data in such studies…

Full citation: Sardans, J., Llusia, J., Owen, S. M., Niinemets, Ü., & Peñuelas, J. (2015). Screening study of leaf terpene concentration of 75 Borneo rainforest plant species: relationships with leaf elemental concentrations and morphology. Records of Natural Products, 9(1), 19-40. (link to full text)


Terpene catalyst in Borneo´s forest (pic from here)


Terpenes confer advantage in plant protection against abiotic stresses such as heat and drought and biotic stresses such as herbivore and pathogen attack. We conducted a screening of leaf mono- and sesquiterpene concentrations in 75 common woody plant species in the rainforest of Danum Valley (Borneo). Terpene compounds were found in 73 out of the 75 analysed species. Similar or lower proportions have been reported in other parts of the world. To our knowledge, this study reports for the first time the foliar concentration of monoand/or sesquiterpene for 71 species and 39 genera not previously analyzed. Altogether 80 terpene compounds were determined across the species, and out of these only linalool oxide and (E)-g-bisabolene had phylogenetic signal. A significant negative relationship between leaf monoterpene concentration and leaf length was observed, but leaf mono- and sesquitepene concentration were not related to any other leaf morphological trait nor to leaf elemental composition. Functions such as temperature protection, radiation protection or signaling and communication could underlie the high frequency of terpene-containing species of this tropical ecosystem which has multiple and very diverse interactions among multiple species.

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