Individual and interactive effects of herbivory on plant fitness: endopolyploidy as a driver of genetic variation in tolerance and resistance

J. Miles Mesa, John A. Juvik, Ken N. Paige

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies have shown a causal link between mammalian herbivory, tolerance, and chemical defense in Arabidopsis thaliana, driven by the process of endoreduplication (replication of the genome without mitosis). Removal of the apical meristem by mammalian herbivores lowers auxin, which triggers entry into the endocycle. Increasing chromosome number through endoreduplication, and therefore gene copy number, provides a means of increasing gene expression promoting rapid regrowth rates, higher defensive chemistry and enhanced fitness. Here, we assess whether insect leaf-feeding elicits the same compensatory response as the removal of apical dominance. Insect feeding has been shown to downregulate auxin production, which should trigger endoreduplication. Results here support this contention; insect leaf-feeding by Trichoplusia ni elicited a compensatory response similar to that of mammalian herbivores—an ecotype-specific response consistent with the level of endoreduplication. The interactive effects of mammalian and insect herbivory were also assessed to determine whether interactions were additive (pairwise) or non-additive (diffuse) on tolerance (fitness). Specifically, results indicate that herbivory is either diffuse (a significant clipping × T. ni interaction) or pairwise (no significant interaction between clipping and T. ni herbivory), dependent upon plant genotype and compensatory ability. In general, herbivore-induced changes in plant quality appear to be responsible for the observed differences in herbivory and fitness compensation. We discuss the importance of evaluating endoreduplication among plants within a population to avoid masking the association between tolerance and resistance and the fitness consequences of multi-herbivore interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-856
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • Arabidopsis
  • Endoreduplication
  • Fitness compensation
  • Glucosinolates
  • Overcompensation
  • Oxidative pentose phosphate pathway
  • Resistance
  • Tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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