Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 1307–1319 | Cite as

Cost of trichome production and resistance to a specialist insect herbivore in Arabidopsis lyrata

  • Nina SletvoldEmail author
  • Piritta Huttunen
  • Richard Handley
  • Katri Kärkkäinen
  • Jon Ågren


Theory predicts that trade-offs between resistance to herbivory and other traits positively affecting fitness can maintain genetic variation in resistance within plant populations. In the perennial herb Arabidopsis lyrata, trichome production is a resistance trait that exhibits both qualitative and quantitative variation. Using a paternal half-sib design, we conducted two greenhouse experiments to ask whether trichomes confer resistance to oviposition and leaf herbivory by the specialist moth Plutella xylostella, and to examine potential genetic constraints on evolution of increased resistance and trichome density. In addition, we examined whether trichome production is induced by insect herbivory. We found strong positive genetic and phenotypic correlations between leaf trichome density and resistance to leaf herbivory, demonstrating that the production of leaf trichomes increases resistance to leaf damage by P. xylostella. Also resistance to oviposition tended to increase with increasing leaf trichome density, but genetic and phenotypic correlations were not statistically significant. Trichome density and resistance to leaf herbivory were negatively correlated genetically with plant size in the absence of herbivores, but not in the presence of herbivores. There was no evidence of increased trichome production after leaf damage by P. xylostella. The results suggest that trichome production and resistance to leaf herbivory are associated with a cost and that the direction of selection on resistance and trichome density depends on the intensity of herbivory.


Additive genetic variation Cost of resistance Herbivory Plant-animal interactions Resistance polymorphism Trichomes 



We thank M. Vallejo-Marin and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript. This study was financially supported by grants from Formas and the Swedish Research Council to J.Å., from the Academy of Finland to P.H. and K.K., and from NorFA, the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the Evolutionary Ecology Graduate School of the University of Jyväskylä to P.H.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nina Sletvold
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Piritta Huttunen
    • 2
  • Richard Handley
    • 1
  • Katri Kärkkäinen
    • 2
  • Jon Ågren
    • 1
  1. 1.Plant Ecology, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Evolutionary Biology CentreUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Finnish Forest Research InstituteMuhos Research UnitMuhosFinland
  3. 3.NTNU, Museum of Natural History and ArchaeologyTrondheimNorway

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