Relaxation of herbivore-mediated selection drives the evolution of genetic covariances between plant competitive and defense traits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Insect herbivores are important mediators of selection on traits that impact plant defense against herbivory and competitive ability. Although recent experiments demonstrate a central role for herbivory in driving rapid evolution of defense and competition-mediating traits, whether and how herbivory shapes heritable variation in these traits remains poorly understood. Here, we evaluate the structure and evolutionary stability of the G matrix for plant metabolites that are involved in defense and allelopathy in the tall goldenrod, Solidago altissima. We show that G has evolutionarily diverged between experimentally replicated populations that evolved in the presence versus the absence of ambient herbivory, providing direct evidence for the evolution of G by natural selection. Specifically, evolution in an herbivore-free habitat altered the orientation of G, revealing a negative genetic covariation between defense- and competition-related metabolites that is typically masked in herbivore-exposed populations. Our results may be explained by predictions of classical quantitative genetic theory, as well as the theory of acquisition-allocation trade-offs. The study provides compelling evidence that herbivory drives the evolution of plant genetic architecture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1700-1709
Number of pages10
JournalEvolution
Volume71
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017

Keywords

  • acquisition-allocation theory
  • Allelopathy
  • G-matrix
  • plant secondary metabolites
  • plant-herbivore interaction
  • trade-off

Cite this

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title = "Relaxation of herbivore-mediated selection drives the evolution of genetic covariances between plant competitive and defense traits",
abstract = "Insect herbivores are important mediators of selection on traits that impact plant defense against herbivory and competitive ability. Although recent experiments demonstrate a central role for herbivory in driving rapid evolution of defense and competition-mediating traits, whether and how herbivory shapes heritable variation in these traits remains poorly understood. Here, we evaluate the structure and evolutionary stability of the G matrix for plant metabolites that are involved in defense and allelopathy in the tall goldenrod, Solidago altissima. We show that G has evolutionarily diverged between experimentally replicated populations that evolved in the presence versus the absence of ambient herbivory, providing direct evidence for the evolution of G by natural selection. Specifically, evolution in an herbivore-free habitat altered the orientation of G, revealing a negative genetic covariation between defense- and competition-related metabolites that is typically masked in herbivore-exposed populations. Our results may be explained by predictions of classical quantitative genetic theory, as well as the theory of acquisition-allocation trade-offs. The study provides compelling evidence that herbivory drives the evolution of plant genetic architecture.",
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Relaxation of herbivore-mediated selection drives the evolution of genetic covariances between plant competitive and defense traits. / Uesugi, Akane; Connallon, Tim; Kessler, Andre; Monro, Keyne.

In: Evolution, Vol. 71, No. 6, 01.06.2017, p. 1700-1709.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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