Author(s): Kleine S, Mller C, Kleine S, Mller C
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Abstract Plant responses of both shoots and roots to combined abiotic and biotic stress have been rarely investigated. However, stresses such as drought and aboveground herbivory might lead to conflicting resource allocation patterns and pronounced shifts in shoot vs. root defenses. In the present study, the effects of water availability and leaf herbivory by caterpillars of a generalist on various shoot and root traits of the aromatic plant Tanacetum vulgare L. were investigated. This species contains terpenoids in leaves and roots, which can differ in composition among individuals, forming so-called chemotypes. To test for intraspecific variation, responses were investigated in two chemotypes, the thujone and the carvyl acetate chemotype. Furthermore, effects of differences in plant quality on the herbivores were studied. Shoot biomass significantly decreased due to drought and herbivory, whereas the root/shoot ratio increased following drought but was unaffected by herbivory. No shifts in C/N ratios were found. In contrast to our expectation, leaf terpenoid concentrations decreased only slightly due to drought, whereas root terpenoids were significantly induced by both drought and herbivory. Chemotypes showed distinct responses to drought at least in the root/shoot ratio, with a higher drought sensitivity of the carvyl acetate chemotype. The body mass of the caterpillars was unaffected by the irrigation treatment but depended on chemotype and terpenoid concentration of the plants. Thus, both qualitative and quantitative defenses strongly affect herbivore development. The present results offer new insights into the above- and belowground organ-specific responses of plants. They highlight the importance of roots in response to various environmental challenges.
This article was published in J Chem Ecol
and referenced in Transcriptomics: Open Access