Historic exposure to herbivores, not constitutive traits, explains plant tolerance to herbivory in the case of two Medicago species (Fabaceae)

Miquel Capó*, Margalida Roig-Oliver, Carles Cardona, Joana Cursach, Jordi Bartolomé, Juan Rita, Elena Baraza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Mechanisms that allow plants to survive and reproduce after herbivory are considered to play a key role in plant evolution. In this study, we evaluated how tolerance varies in species with different historic exposure to herbivores considering ontogeny. We exposed the range-restricted species Medicago citrina and its closely related and widespread species M. arborea to one and two herbivory simulations (80 % aerial biomass loss). Physiological and growth parameters related to tolerance capacity were assessed to evaluate constitutive values (without herbivory) and induced tolerance after damage. Constitutive traits were not always related to greater tolerance, and each species compensated for herbivory through different traits. Herbivory damage only led to mortality in M. citrina; adults exhibited root biomass loss and increased oxidative stress after damage, but also compensated aerial biomass. Despite seedlings showed a lower death percentage than adults after herbivory in M. citrina, they showed less capacity to recover control values than adults. Moderate tolerance to M. arborea herbivory and low tolerance to M. citrina is found. Thus, although the constitutive characteristics are maintained in the lineage, the tolerance of plants decreases in M. citrina. That represents how plants respond to the lack of pressure from herbivores in their habitat.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110890
Pages (from-to)110890
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Science
Volume307
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • Introduced herbivores
  • Medicago sp.
  • Mediterranean island
  • Range-restricted species
  • Tolerance
  • Genetic Variation
  • Plant Immunity/genetics
  • Medicago/genetics
  • Herbivory/genetics
  • Crops, Agricultural/genetics
  • Genotype
  • Spain
  • DEFENSE
  • DEFOLIATION
  • MECHANISMS
  • DAMAGE
  • RESPONSES
  • EVOLUTION
  • OVERCOMPENSATION
  • GROWTH
  • Medicago sp
  • NUTRIENT AVAILABILITY
  • PHOTOSYNTHESIS

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