Herbivory tolerance has been linked to plant growth rate where plants with fast growth rates are hypothesized to be more tolerant of herbivory than slower-growing plants. Evidence supporting this theory has been taken primarily from observations of aboveground organs but rarely from roots. Grapevines differing in overall rates of new root production, were studied in Napa Valley, California over two growing seasons in an established vineyard infested with the sucking insect, grape phylloxera (Daktulosphaira vitifoliae Fitch). The experimental vineyard allowed for the comparison of two root systems that differed in rates of new root tip production (a 'fast grower', Vitis berlandieri x Vitis rupestris cv. 1103P, and a slower-growing stock, Vitis riparia x Vitis rupestris cv. 101-14 Mgt). Each root system was grafted with a genetically identical shoot system (Vitis vinifera cv. Merlot). Using minirhizotrons, we did not observe any evidence of spatial or temporal avoidance of insect populations by root growth. Insect infestations were abundant throughout the soil profile, and seasonal peaks in phylloxera populations generally closely followed peaks in new root production. Our data supported the hypothesis that insect infestation was proportional to the number of growing tips, as indicated by similar per cent infestation in spite of a threefold difference in root tip production. In addition, infested roots of the fast-growing rootstock exhibited somewhat shorter median lifespans (60 d) than the slower-growing rootstock (85 d). Lifespans of uninfested roots were similar for the two rootstocks (200 d). As a consequence of greater root mortality of younger roots, infested root populations in the fast-growing rootstock had an older age structure. While there does not seem to be a trade-off between potential growth rate and relative rate of root infestation in these cultivars, our study indicates that a fast-growing root system may more readily shed infested roots that are presumably less effective in water and nutrient uptake. Thus, differences in root tip production may be linked to differences in the way plants cope with roots that are infested by sucking insects.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science