Members only: induced systemic resistance to herbivory in a clonal plant network
The stoloniferous herb Trifolium repens was used to study the expression of induced systemic resistance (ISR) to the generalist caterpillar Spodoptera exigua in interconnected ramets of clonal fragments. The ISR was assessed as caterpillar preference in dual choice tests between control and systemically induced plants. The ISR was detected in young ramets, after inducing older sibling ramets on the same stolon by a controlled herbivore attack. However, older ramets did not receive a defense induction signal from younger ramets unless the predominant phloem flow was reversed by means of basal shading. This provides evidence for the notion that in T. repens the clone-internal expression of ISR is coupled to phloem transport and follows source–sink gradients. The inducibility of the genotypes was not linked to their constitutive ability to produce cyanide, implying the absence of a trade-off between these two defense traits. To our knowledge, this is the first study that explores ISR to herbivory in the context of physiological integration in potentially extensive clonal plant networks.
KeywordsInducible defense Plant communication Source–sink transport Spodoptera exigua Trifolium repens
We are especially grateful to Yolanda Verhulst and Sabrina van Nieuwkerk for practical assistance and Joanneke Reudler Talsma for supplying S. exigua cocoons. We thank Tamara van Mölken, Eric Visser, Heidrun Huber, Hans de Kroon and two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments on a previous version of this manuscript.
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