Tradeoffs associated with constitutive and induced plant resistance against herbivory

Kempel, Anne; Schadler, Martin; Chrobock, Thomas; Fischer, Markus; van Kleunen, Mark (2011). Tradeoffs associated with constitutive and induced plant resistance against herbivory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America - PNAS, 108(14), pp. 5685-5689. Lawrence, Kans.: National Academy of Sciences NAS 10.1073/pnas.1016508108

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Several prominent hypotheses have been posed to explain the immense variability among plant species in defense against herbivores. A major concept in the evolutionary ecology of plant defenses is that tradeoffs of defense strategies are likely to generate and maintain species diversity. In particular, tradeoffs between constitutive and induced resistance and tradeoffs relating these strategies to growth and competitive ability have been predicted. We performed three independent experiments on 58 plant species from 15 different plant families to address these hypotheses in a phylogenetic framework. Because evolutionary tradeoffs may be altered by human-imposed artificial selection, we used 18 wild plant species and 40 cultivated garden-plant species. Across all 58 plant species, we demonstrate a tradeoff between constitutive and induced resistance, which was robust to accounting for phylogenetic history of the species. Moreover, the tradeoff was driven by wild species and was not evident for cultivated species. In addition, we demonstrate that more competitive species—but not fast growing ones—had lower constitutive but higher induced resistance. Thus, our multispecies experiments indicate that the competition–defense tradeoff holds for constitutive resistance and is complemented by a positive relationship of competitive ability with induced resistance. We conclude that the studied genetically determined tradeoffs are indeed likely to play an important role in shaping the high diversity observed among plant species in resistance against herbivores and in life history traits.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Kempel, Anne Sybille, Chrobock, Thomas, Fischer, Markus




National Academy of Sciences NAS




Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:27

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:21

Publisher DOI:


Web of Science ID:


URI: (FactScience: 215842)

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