Oecologia

, Volume 149, Issue 2, pp 214–220 | Cite as

Plant age, communication, and resistance to herbivores: young sagebrush plants are better emitters and receivers

Plant Animal Interactions

Abstract

Plants progress through a series of distinct stages during development, although the role of plant ontogeny in their defenses against herbivores is poorly understood. Recent work indicates that many plants activate systemic induced resistance after herbivore attack, although the relationship between resistance and ontogeny has not been a focus of this work. In addition, for sagebrush and a few other species, individuals near neighbors that experience simulated herbivory become more resistant to subsequent attack. Volatile, airborne cues are required for both systemic induced resistance among branches and for communication among individuals. We conducted experiments in stands of sagebrush of mixed ages to determine effects of plant age on volatile signaling between branches and individuals. Young and old control plants did not differ in levels of chewing damage that they experienced. Systemic induced resistance among branches was only observed for young plants. Young plants showed strong evidence of systemic resistance only if airflow was permitted among branches; plants with only vascular connections showed no systemic resistance. We also found evidence for volatile communication between individuals. For airborne communication, young plants were more effective emitters of cues as well as more responsive receivers of volatile cues.

Keywords

Artemisia tridentata Defense Development Eavesdropping Induced resistance 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EntomologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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