A below-ground herbivore shapes root defensive chemistry in natural plant populations

Huber, Meret; Bont, Zoe; Fricke, Julia; Brillatz, Théo; Aziz, Zohra; Gershenzon, Jonathan; Erb, Matthias (2016). A below-ground herbivore shapes root defensive chemistry in natural plant populations. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological sciences, 283(1827), pp. 1-10. The Royal Society 10.1098/rspb.2016.0285

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Plants display extensive intraspecific variation in secondary metabolites. However, the selective forces shaping this diversity remain often unknown, especially below ground. Using Taraxacum officinale and its major native insect root herbivore Melolontha melolontha, we tested whether below-ground herbivores drive intraspecific variation in root secondary metabolites. We found that high M. melolontha infestation levels over recent decades are associated with high concentrations of major root latex secondary metabolites across 21 central European T. officinale field populations. By cultivating offspring of these populations, we show that both heritable variation and phenotypic plasticity contribute to the observed differences. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the production of the sesquiterpene lactone taraxinic acid β-d-glucopyranosyl ester (TA-G) is costly in the absence, but beneficial in the presence of M. melolontha, resulting in divergent selection of TA-G. Our results highlight the role of soil-dwelling insects for the evolution of plant defences in nature.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

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:

Bont, Zoe Kalina; Fricke, Julia and Erb, Matthias

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

1471-2954

Publisher:

The Royal Society

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

18 May 2016 10:55

Last Modified:

27 Feb 2018 08:26

Publisher DOI:

10.1098/rspb.2016.0285

PubMed ID:

27009228

Uncontrolled Keywords:

root herbivory, plant secondary metabolites, defence, selection, latex, fitness costs

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.82031

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/82031

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