Seed predation, pathogen infection and life-history traits in Brassica rapa.
Herbivory and disease can shape the evolution of plant populations, but their joint effects are rarely investigated. Families of plants of Brassica rapa (Brassicaceae) were grown from seeds collected in two naturalized populations in an experimental garden. We examined leaf infection by the fungus Alternaria, seed predation by a gall midge (Cecidomyiidae) and plant life-history traits. Plants from one population had heavier seeds, were more likely to flower, had less fungal infection, had more seed predation and were more fecund. Fungal infection score and seed predation rate increased with plant size, but large plants still had the greatest number of undamaged fruits. Spatial heterogeneity in the experimental garden was significant; seed predation rate and fecundity varied among blocks. An apparent tradeoff existed between susceptibility to disease and seed predation: plants with the highest fungal infection score had the lowest seed predation rate. Alternaria infection varied between populations, but the disease had no effect on fecundity. Seed predation did reduce fecundity. Damaged fruits had 31.4% fewer intact seeds. However, evidence for additive genetic variation in resistance to seed predation was weak. Therefore, neither disease nor seed predation was likely to be a strong agent of genetically based fecundity selection.
Nakamura, RR; Mitchell-Olds, T; Manasse, RS; Lello, D
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