Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 31, Issue 10, pp 2231–2242 | Cite as

Herbivores, Vascular Pathways, and Systemic Induction: Facts and Artifacts

  • Colin Orians


Over the past 10 years there has been tremendous growth in our understanding of molecular, chemical, and morphological induction of traits involved in the resistance of plants to herbivores. Although it is well established that the patterns of induction can be constrained by a plant's vascular architecture, studies often fail to account for these constraints. Failure to do so has the potential to severely underestimate both the patterns and extent of induction. Here I review (1) the evidence for vascular control of induced responses, (2) how interspecific variation in phyllotaxy influences spatial patterning of induction, (3) the factors, phloem transport and volatile production, that may break down vascular constraints and lead to more widespread induction, and (4) the experimental approaches that could be compromised when vascular architecture is not considered. I show that vascular constraints in systemic induction are commonplace, but vary among species. I suggest that when induction is more widespread than expected from patterns of phyllotaxy, differences in vascular connectivity and volatile production may be responsible. I argue that advances in the mechanisms of systemic induction, cross-talk between different signal transduction pathways, specificity of induction, costs and benefits of systemic induction, and the effects of induced changes on herbivores and their natural enemies require that experiments be designed to examine and/or control for vascular constraints in systemic induction.

Key Words

Systemic induction vascular architecture sectoriality long-distance transport source–sink dynamics volatiles experimental design 



I thank Danush Viswanathan, Anurag Agrawal, Michael Thorpe, and two anonymous reviewers for comments on an early version of this manuscript and the National Science Foundation (DEB 9981568) and the Andrew Mellon Foundation for financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyTufts UniversityMedfordUSA

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