An assessment of the molecular mechanisms contributing to tolerance to apical damage in natural populations of Arabidopsis thaliana

Daniel R. Scholes, Justin Dalrymple, Joshua M. Mesa, Joshua A. Banta, Ken N Paige

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Herbivory imposes substantial selection pressure on plants, with the ability to regrow and maintain reproductive success a challenging but often necessary response by the plant. Despite the commonness of herbivore-induced damage, vast variation in tolerance ability exists among plants. Recent studies have suggested the role of endoreduplication (increasing ploidy within an individual) and the pentose phosphate pathway (a metabolic pathway that supports both primary and secondary metabolism) in contributing to the variation in tolerance ability among genotypes of Arabidopsis thaliana. We measured natural variation in apical meristem damage frequency, endoreduplication, and the sequence of G6PD1, an important gene in the pentose phosphate pathway, and related them to variation in tolerance of natural populations of A. thaliana over a portion of its native European range. Variation among populations in tolerance was significantly positively related to damage frequency, suggesting the potential for directional selection for tolerance ability as a product of damage frequency. We also discovered likely loss-of-function G6PD1 alleles in two populations, both of which displayed among the lowest levels of tolerance of all populations assessed. In addition, populations with the greatest increase in endopolyploidy also had the greatest ability to tolerate damage while populations with the greatest reduction in endopolyploidy had the lowest ability to tolerate damage. This study provides an assessment of variation in tolerance, damage frequency, G6PD1 sequence, and endopolyploidy in natural populations of A. thaliana, and also contributes to the growing body of research on the contributions of these specific molecular mechanisms to the tolerance response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-276
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Compensation
  • Defense
  • Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase
  • Herbivory
  • Pentose phosphate pathway
  • Ploidy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Plant Science

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