, Volume 201, Issue 2, pp 651-659,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 02 Nov 2008

Herbivory and local genetic differentiation in natural populations of Arabidopsis thaliana (Brassicaceae)

Abstract

To explore genetic variation in defence against the natural herbivores of Arabidopsis thaliana, we transplanted genotypes between a dune habitat and inland habitat in both of which A. thaliana occurred naturally. In previous years we had observed that the specialist weevils Ceutorhynchus atomus and C. contractus (Curculionidae) fed conspicuously on flowers and fruits of A. thaliana in the dunes, while these weevils were always rare in inland habitats. Taking all plants together, total fruit damage was indeed much higher in our experimental plots in the dune habitat (59.7%) relative to the inland garden habitat (18.9%). Within a habitat, additional differences existed between plants of different origins, pointing to genetic differences in ecologically relevant characters; plants of inland origin flowered a week earlier, grew better and produced more fruits than plants of dune origin. However, plants of inland origin experienced more total fruit damage by the specialist weevils (75.4%) than plants of dune origin (44.0%) when the two types grew side by side in the dune habitat. Escape from herbivory gives dune genotypes an advantage in their native habitat, whereas stronger growth and higher survival gives inland genotypes an edge under garden conditions.