Tree Genetics & Genomes

, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp 1051–1060 | Cite as

A rare major plant QTL determines non-responsiveness to a gall-forming insect in willow

  • Solveig HöglundEmail author
  • Ann Christin Rönnberg-Wästljung
  • Ulf Lagercrantz
  • Stig Larsson
Original Paper


Growth and defence are plant traits that determine attack success by sessile herbivorous insects. Models of plant resistance suggest induced resistance to be an especially important mechanism in growth-dominated plant species. Little is known, however, about the effects of absence of induced responses as an alternative resistance mechanism. Large genetically based intraspecific variation in resistance (neonate larval mortality) occurs in Salix viminalis against the gall midge Dasineura marginemtorquens. In certain resistant genotypes, larval mortality is associated with formation of necrotic lesions and biochemical changes commonly found in hypersensitive response (HR). More detailed studies, however, have shown that resistance can occur without HR symptoms. By means of a quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis, this study tested whether (1) resistance is caused by the HR or (2) by the failure of the midge to initiate a gall (non-responsiveness). One QTL explained 68 and 18 % of the variation in resistance in the experimental population during 2 years of investigation. Co-location of QTLs for resistance and HR was found in only one of the years, i.e. when HR was suppressed. The data suggest that the mechanism of resistance involves non-responsiveness, implying that the insect starves to death due to lack of resources. Such symptomless defence may be more important than previously thought because it is difficult to observe in nature.


Dasineura marginemtorquens Gall midge Non-responsiveness Resistance QTL Salix viminalis Hypersensitive response HR 



We are grateful to Carolyn Glynn, Colin Orians and two anonymous reviewers who commented on the earlier draft of this article, to Urban Pettersson for making the plant cross and to Ingrid Eriksson, Marika Pettersson, Yvonne Tillman, Marielle Stenmark and Anders Thorsten for field and laboratory assistance. This work was supported by the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (FORMAS)

Supplementary material

11295_2012_485_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (16 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 16 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Solveig Höglund
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ann Christin Rönnberg-Wästljung
    • 2
  • Ulf Lagercrantz
    • 3
  • Stig Larsson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EcologySwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Department of Plant Biology and Forest GeneticsSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  3. 3.Department of Evolutionary Functional GenomicsUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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