, Volume 169, Issue 1, pp 49–60 | Cite as

Protein storage and root:shoot reallocation provide tolerance to damage in a hybrid willow system

  • Cris G. HochwenderEmail author
  • Dong H. Cha
  • Mary Ellen Czesak
  • Robert S. Fritz
  • Rebecca R. Smyth
  • Arlen D. Kaufman
  • Brandi Warren
  • Ashley Neuman
Physiological ecology - Original Paper


To determine the mechanistic basis of tolerance, we evaluated six candidate traits for tolerance to damage using F2 interspecific hybrids in a willow hybrid system. A distinction was made between reproductive tolerance and biomass tolerance; reproductive tolerance was designated as a plant’s proportional change in catkin production following damage, while biomass tolerance referred to a plant’s proportional change in biomass (i.e., regrowth) following damage. F2 hybrids were generated to increase variation and independence among candidate traits. Using three clonally identical individuals, pre-damage candidate traits for tolerance to damage (root:shoot ratio, total nonstructural carbohydrate, and total available protein) and post-damage candidate traits (relative root:shoot ratio, phenolic ratio, and specific leaf area ratio) were measured. The range of variation for these six candidate traits was broad. Biomass was significantly increased two years after 50% shoot length removal, and catkin production was not significantly reduced when damaged, suggesting that F2 hybrids had great biomass tolerance and reproductive tolerance. Based on multiple regression methods, increased reproductive tolerance was associated with increased protein storage and decreased relative root:shoot ratio (reduced root allocation after damage). In addition, a positive relationship between biomass tolerance and condensed tannins was detected, and both traits were associated with increased reproductive tolerance. These four factors explained 57% of the variance in the reproductive tolerance of F2 hybrids, but biomass tolerance explained the majority of the variance in reproductive tolerance. Changes in plant architecture in response to plant damage may be the underlying mechanism that explains biomass tolerance.


Carbon storage Chemical defense Herbivore damage Plant architecture Salix 



This work has been supported by NSF Grants DEB 01-27369 to CGH and DEB 99-81406 to RSF. We thank the Sosnowskis and M. Membrino, who have permitted us to conduct research on their property. We received logistical support from the Biology Department at Hartwick College. We thank the following people for help with field work: S.D. Bodach, R.D. Fritz, R.G. Gale, S. Irwin, M.J. Knee, J. Mann, B. Mock, B. Murray, M. Rasher, N. Rice, E. Sedgwick, and L. Spiller. We thank B. Mock and J. Rudolph for help with grinding the root and shoot samples. We give special thanks to C.M. Orians for guidance with phenolic glycoside analyses and for chemical standards. We thank anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cris G. Hochwender
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dong H. Cha
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mary Ellen Czesak
    • 3
  • Robert S. Fritz
    • 3
  • Rebecca R. Smyth
    • 5
  • Arlen D. Kaufman
    • 4
  • Brandi Warren
    • 4
  • Ashley Neuman
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of EvansvilleEvansvilleUSA
  2. 2.Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory, USDA-ARSWapatoUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologyVassar CollegePoughkeepsieUSA
  4. 4.Department of ChemistryUniversity of EvansvilleEvansvilleUSA
  5. 5.Department of EntomologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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