Genetic variation in herbivore resistance and tolerance: the role of plant life-history stage and type of damage.
Muola A., Mutikainen P., Laukkanen L., Lilley M., Leimu R.
Information of the patterns of genetic variation in plant resistance and tolerance against herbivores and genetic trade-offs between these two defence strategies is central for our understanding of the evolution of plant defence. We found genetic variation in resistance to two specialist herbivores and in tolerance to artificial damage but not to a specialist leaf herbivore in a long-lived perennial herb. Seedlings tended to have genetic variation in tolerance to artificial damage. Genetic variation in tolerance of adult plants to artificial damage was not consistent in time. Our results suggest that the level of genetic variation in tolerance and resistance depends on plant life-history stage, type of damage and timing of estimating the tolerance relative to the occurrence of the damage, which might reflect the pattern of selection imposed by herbivory. Furthermore, we found no trade-offs between resistance and tolerance, which suggests that the two defence strategies can evolve independently.