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Life History and Tolerance and Resistance against Herbivores in Natural Populations of Arabidopsis thaliana
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Plant Ecology and Evolution.
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this thesis, I combined observational studies with field and greenhouse experiments to examine selection on life history traits and variation in tolerance and resistance against herbivores in natural populations of the annual herb Arabidopsis thaliana in its native range. I investigated (1) phenotypic selection on flowering time and plant size, (2) the effects of timing of germination on plant fitness, (3) the effect of leaf damage on seed production, and (4) correlations between resistance against a specialist and a generalist insect herbivore.

In all three study populations, flowering time was negatively related to plant fitness, but in only one of the populations, significant selection on flowering time was detected when controlling for size prior to the flowering season. The results show that correlations between flowering time and plant fecundity may be confounded by variation in plant size prior to the reproductive season.

A field experiment detected conflicting selection on germination time: Early germination was associated with low seedling survival, but also with large leaf rosette before winter and high survival and fecundity among established plants. The results suggest that low survival among early germinating seeds is the main force opposing the evolution of earlier germination, and that the optimal timing of germination should vary in space and time as a function of the relative strength of selection acting during different life-history stages.

Experimental leaf damage demonstrated that tolerance to damage was lowest among vegetative plants early in the season, and highest among flowering plants later in the season. Given similar damage levels, leaf herbivores feeding on plants before flowering should thus exert stronger selection on defence traits than those feeding on plants during flowering.

Resistance against larval feeding by the specialist Plutella xylostella was negatively correlated with resistance against larval feeding by the generalist Mamestra brassicae and with resistance against oviposition by P. xylostella when variation in resistance was examined within and among two Swedish and two Italian A. thaliana populations. The results suggest that negative correlations between resistance against different herbivores and different life-history stages of herbivores may contribute to the maintenance of genetic variation in resistance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2011. , 44 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 870
Keyword [en]
Arabidopsis thaliana, life history evolution, flowering time, germination, phenology, plant-herbivore interactions, natural selection, tolerance to leaf damage, resistance to herbivory, Plutella xylostella, Mamestra brassicae
National Category
Botany Ecology Evolutionary Biology
Research subject
Biology with specialization in Ecological Botany
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-159688ISBN: 978-91-554-8189-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-159688DiVA: diva2:448736
Public defence
2011-11-26, Lindahlsalen, EBC, Norbyvägen 18B, Uppsala, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-11-03 Created: 2011-10-06 Last updated: 2011-11-10Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Selection on flowering time in three natural populations of Arabidopsis thaliana
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Selection on flowering time in three natural populations of Arabidopsis thaliana
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Ecology Evolutionary Biology Botany
Research subject
Biology with specialization in Ecological Botany
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-159506 (URN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2011-10-06 Created: 2011-10-03 Last updated: 2011-11-10
2. Conflicting selection on the timing of germination in a natural population of Arabidopsis thaliana
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Conflicting selection on the timing of germination in a natural population of Arabidopsis thaliana
2014 (English)In: Journal of Evolutionary Biology, ISSN 1010-061X, E-ISSN 1420-9101, Vol. 27, no 1, 193-199 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The timing of germination is a key life-history trait that may strongly influence plant fitness and that sets the stage for selection on traits expressed later in the life cycle. In seasonal environments, the period favourable for germination and the total length of the growing season are limited. The optimal timing of germination may therefore be governed by conflicting selection through survival and fecundity. We conducted a field experiment to examine the effects of timing of germination on survival, fecundity and overall fitness in a natural population of the annual herb Arabidopsis thaliana in north-central Sweden. Seedlings were transplanted at three different times in late summer and in autumn covering the period of seed germination in the study population. Early germination was associated with low seedling survival, but also with high survival and fecundity among established plants. The advantages of germinating early more than balanced the disadvantage and selection favoured early germination. The results suggest that low survival among early germinating seeds is the main force opposing the evolution of earlier germination and that the optimal timing of germination should vary in space and time as a function of the direction and strength of selection acting during different life-history stages.

National Category
Ecology Evolutionary Biology Botany
Research subject
Biology with specialization in Ecological Botany
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-159664 (URN)10.1111/jeb.12293 (DOI)000329254500018 ()
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2011-10-06 Created: 2011-10-06 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
3. Magnitude and timing of leaf damage affect seed production in a natural population of Arabidopsis thaliana (Brassicaceae)
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Magnitude and timing of leaf damage affect seed production in a natural population of Arabidopsis thaliana (Brassicaceae)
2012 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 7, no 1, e30015- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: The effect of herbivory on plant fitness varies widely. Understanding the causes of this variation is of considerable interest because of its implications for plant population dynamics and trait evolution. We experimentally defoliated the annual herb Arabidopsis thaliana in a natural population in Sweden to test the hypotheses that (a) plant fitness decreases with increasing damage, (b) tolerance to defoliation is lower before flowering than during flowering, and (c) defoliation before flowering reduces number of seeds more strongly than defoliation during flowering, but the opposite is true for effects on seed size.

Methodology/Principal Findings: In a first experiment, between 0 and 75% of the leaf area was removed in May from plants that flowered or were about to start flowering. In a second experiment, 0, 25%, or 50% of the leaf area was removed from plants on one of two occasions, in mid April when plants were either in the vegetative rosette or bolting stage, or in mid May when plants were flowering. In the first experiment, seed production was negatively related to leaf area removed, and at the highest damage level, also mean seed size was reduced. In the second experiment, removal of 50% of the leaf area reduced seed production by 60% among plants defoliated early in the season at the vegetative rosettes, and by 22% among plants defoliated early in the season at the bolting stage, but did not reduce seed output of plants defoliated one month later. No seasonal shift in the effect of defoliation on seed size was detected.

Conclusions/Significance: The results show that leaf damage may reduce the fitness of A. thaliana, and suggest that in this population leaf herbivores feeding on plants before flowering should exert stronger selection on defence traits than those feeding on plants during flowering, given similar damage levels.

National Category
Ecology Evolutionary Biology Botany
Research subject
Biology with specialization in Ecological Botany
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-159665 (URN)10.1371/journal.pone.0030015 (DOI)000301457200028 ()
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2011-10-06 Created: 2011-10-06 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
4. Genetic variation in leaf morphology and resistance against specialist and generalist insect herbivores in natural populations of Arabidopsis thaliana
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Genetic variation in leaf morphology and resistance against specialist and generalist insect herbivores in natural populations of Arabidopsis thaliana
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Ecology Evolutionary Biology Botany
Research subject
Biology with specialization in Ecological Botany
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-159685 (URN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2011-10-06 Created: 2011-10-06 Last updated: 2011-11-10

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