Rapid evolution of plants driven by the interaction of pollination and herbivory

Adaptation by way of compromise

Many plants rely on pollinators to spread pollen and increase the genetic diversity of their offspring. However, there are trade-offs, as attracting pollinators may also attract herbivores and discouraging predation may decrease floral displays. Ramos and Schiestl have studied the interaction between reproductive system, flowers and chemical defenses over several generations Brassica Rapa plants (see Ågren's perspective). The evolution induced by pollination and herbivory can be observed after only eight generations, suggesting that compromises have significant evolutionary consequences.

Science, this number p. 193; see also p. 122


Pollination and herbivory are both key factors in plant diversity, but are traditionally studied in isolation. We studied the evolution of the evolution of plant characteristics in real time over six generations using fast cycles. Brassica Rapa plants and manipulate the presence and absence of pollinators of bumblebees and leaf herbivores. We found that plants selected by bee pollinators had evolved to increased floral appeal, but that this process was compromised by the presence of herbivores. Plants selected from bee pollinators and herbivores have developed higher degrees of self-compatibility and self-reliance, as well as a reduction in the spatial separation of sexual organs (herkogamy ). Overall, the evolution of most traits was affected by the interaction of pollination by bees and herbivory, highlighting the importance of interference between the two types of interactions for the evolution of the plant.

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