Transgenerational Consequences of Plant Responses to Herbivory: An Adaptive Maternal Effect

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Herbivory has many effects on plants, ranging from shifts in primary processes such as photosynthesis, growth, and phenology to effects on defense against subsequent herbivores and other species interactions. In this study, I investigated the effects of herbivory on seed and seedling characteristics of several families of wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum) to test the hypothesis that herbivory may affect the quality of offspring and the resistance of offspring to plant parasites. Transgenerational effects of herbivory may represent adaptive maternal effects or factors that constrain or amplify natural selection on progeny. Caterpillar (Pieris rapae) herbivory to greenhouse?grown plants caused plants in some families to produce smaller seeds and those in other families to produce larger seeds compared with undamaged controls. Seed mass was positively associated with probability of emergence in the field. The number of setose trichomes, a putative plant defense, was higher in the progeny of damaged plants in some families and lower in the progeny of damaged plants in other families. In a field experiment, plant families varied in their resistance to several herbivores and pathogens as well as in growth rate and time to flowering. Seeds from damaged parent plants were more likely to become infested with a plant virus. Although herbivory on maternal plants did not directly affect interactions of offspring with other plant parasites, seed mass influenced plant resistance to several attackers. Thus, herbivory affected seed characters, which mediated interactions between plants and their parasites. Finally, irrespective of seed mass, herbivory on maternal plants influenced components of progeny fitness, which was dependent on plant family. Natural selection may act on plant responses to herbivory that affect seedling?parasite interactions and, ultimately, fitness.
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The American Naturalist
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This study was ?nancially supported by the Center for Population Biology (University of Cal-ifornia, Davis), Section of Population Biology (University of Amsterdam), Department of Botany (University of To-ronto), and the U.S. National Science Foundation DEB-9701109.
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University of Chicago Press
adaptive plasticity; induced defense; norm of reaction; plant-insect interactions; phenotypic plasticity; seed mass
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Agrawal, A. A. (2001). Transgenerational Consequences of Plant Responses to Herbivory: An Adaptive Maternal Effect? The American Naturalist, 157(5), 555–569.
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