Variation in the defense strategies of plants: Are resistance and tolerance mutually exclusive?
Plants can employ two general strategies to defend themselves against herbivory: they can either reduce the amount of damage they experience (resistance), or they can tolerate herbivore damage. Theoretical considerations suggest that, in many cases, tolerance and resistance are redundant strategies, and may therefore be mutually exclusive adaptations. In this investigation of natural populations of the annual plant Arabidopsis thaliana we examine whether the pattern of selection acting on resistance and tolerance favors the evolution of one defense strategy, or the other, but not both. We found that the joint pattern of selection acting on tolerance and two resistance traits, trichome density and total glucosinolate concentration, indicated that there were not alternate peaks in the fitness landscape favoring either resistance or tolerance. Rather, selection favored the retention of both tolerance and resistance. One reason for the absence of mutually exclusive alternative resistance/tolerance strategies is the absence of a negative genetic correlation between resistance and tolerance. An unexpected result is the detection of disruptive selection acting on tolerance, which seems to result from a nonlinear relationship between tolerance and its costs.
Mauricio, R; Rausher, MD; Burdick, DS
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