A conserved pattern in plant-mediated interactions between herbivores

Lu, Jing; Robert, Christelle A. M.; Lou, Yonggen; Erb, Matthias (2016). A conserved pattern in plant-mediated interactions between herbivores. Ecology and evolution, 6(4), pp. 1032-1040. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 10.1002/ece3.1922

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Plant‐mediated interactions between herbivores are important determinants of community structure and plant performance in natural and agricultural systems. Current research suggests that the outcome of the interactions is determined by herbivore and plant identity, which may result in stochastic patterns that impede adaptive evolution and agricultural exploitation. However, few studies have systemically investigated specificity versus general patterns in a given plant system by varying the identity of all involved players. We investigated the influence of herbivore identity and plant genotype on the interaction between leaf‐chewing and root‐feeding herbivores in maize using a partial factorial design. We assessed the influence of leaf induction by oral secretions of six different chewing herbivores on the response of nine different maize genotypes and three different root feeders. Contrary to our expectations, we found a highly conserved pattern across all three dimensions of specificity: The majority of leaf herbivores elicited a negative behavioral response from the different root feeders in the large majority of tested plant genotypes. No facilitation was observed in any of the treatment combinations. However, the oral secretions of one leaf feeder and the responses of two maize genotypes did not elicit a response from a root‐feeding herbivore. Together, these results suggest that plant‐mediated interactions in the investigated system follow a general pattern, but that a degree of specificity is nevertheless present. Our study shows that within a given plant species, plant‐mediated interactions between herbivores of the same feeding guild can be stable. This stability opens up the possibility of adaptations by associated organisms and suggests that plant‐mediated interactions may contribute more strongly to evolutionary dynamics in terrestrial (agro)ecosystems than previously assumed.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


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

UniBE Contributor:

Robert, Christelle Aurélie Maud, Erb, Matthias


500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)




John Wiley & Sons, Inc.




Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

04 Apr 2016 14:28

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:53

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Genetic variation, herbivory, indirect interactions, induced defense, plant resistance





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