Molecular constraints on resistance–tolerance trade-offs

J. Miles Mesa, Daniel R. Scholes, John A Juvik, Ken N Paige

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Plants have numerous mechanisms to cope with the negative effects of herbivory, including plant resistance, structural and chemical traits that reduce damage, and plant tolerance, the ability to compensate for tissues lost. It has been argued that resistance and tolerance represent alternate strategies and thus there should be a trade-off between resistance and tolerance. However, resistance and tolerance are controlled via the same molecular pathway, the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway and the process of endoreduplication. Endoreduplication is the replication of the genome without mitosis, which leads to an increase in cellular chromosome number. Increasing chromosome number and therefore gene copy number provides a means of increasing gene expression that has been shown to enhance compensation following herbivory. By measuring glucosinolate levels and seed production following the removal of apical dominance in genotypes of Arabidopsis thaliana we show that there is a positive association between tolerance and induced chemical defense. Similarly, the direct association between tolerance and resistance is demonstrated by genetically manipulating the endoreduplication pathway. By overexpressing ILP1, a positive regulator of endoreduplica-tion, and thus compensation, we experimentally increased glucosinolate production and tolerance in the Col-0 genotype. We suggest that many herbaceous plants that endoreduplicate (~90%) would show a positive relationship between compensation and chemical defense, given that the molecular pathways are shared in common. We discuss these findings in light of contrasting results on measures of tolerance and resistance, given that the true relationship can be masked by ignoring genetic variation in endoreduplication and the timing of chemical measurement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2528-2537
Number of pages10
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Arabidopsis
  • endoreduplication
  • fitness compensation
  • glucosinolates
  • overcompensation 30 years later
  • oxidative pentose phosphate pathway
  • resistance
  • shikimate acid pathway
  • tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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