Potential contribution of natural enemies to patterns of local adaptation in plants.

Crémieux, Lisèle; Bischoff, Armin; Šmilauerová, Majka; Lawson, Clare S.; Mortimer, Simon R.; Doležal, Jiří; Lanta, Vojtěch; Edwards, Andrew R.; Brook, Alex J.; Tscheulin, Thomas; Macel, Mirka; Lepš, Jan; Müller-Schärer, Heinz and Steinger, Thomas (2008). Potential contribution of natural enemies to patterns of local adaptation in plants. New Phytologist, 180(2) pp. 524–533.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8137.2008.02545.x

Abstract

• Genetic differentiation among plant populations and adaptation to local environmental conditions are well documented. However, few studies have examined the potential contribution of plant antagonists, such as insect herbivores and pathogens, to the pattern of local adaptation.

• Here, a reciprocal transplant experiment was set up at three sites across Europe using two common plant species, Holcus lanatus and Plantago lanceolata. The amount of damage by the main above-ground plant antagonists was measured: a rust fungus infecting Holcus and a specialist beetle feeding on Plantago, both in low-density monoculture plots and in competition with interspecific neighbours.

• Strong genetic differentiation among provenances in the amount of damage by antagonists in both species was found. Local provenances of Holcus had significantly higher amounts of rust infection than foreign provenances, whereas local provenances of Plantago were significantly less damaged by the specialist beetle than the foreign provenances. The presence of surrounding vegetation affected the amount of damage but had little influence on the ranking of plant provenances.

• The opposite pattern of population differentiation in resistance to local antagonists in the two species suggests that it will be difficult to predict the consequences of plant translocations for interactions with organisms of higher trophic levels.

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