Premise of the study: A growing number of studies document effects of inbreeding on plant interactions with insect herbivores, including deleterious effects on direct and indirect plant defenses. However, our understanding of the specific mechanisms mediating such effects remains limited. Here we examine how inbreeding affects constitutive and induced expression of structural defenses (spines and trichomes) in common horsenettle, Solanum carolinense. Methods: Inbred and outbred progeny from nine maternal families of horsenettle were assigned to three treatments: control, Manduca sexta caterpillar damage, or mechanical damage. Numbers of internode spines and the density of abaxial and adaxial trichomes were assessed before and after (21 d) damage treatments. Data on internode length, flowering time, and total flower production was also collected to explore the costs of defense induction. Key results: Inbreeding adversely affected constitutive and induced physical/structural defenses: undamaged outbred plants produced more abaxial and adaxial leaf trichomes and internode spines than did inbred plants. Foliar damage by M. sexta larvae also induced more trichomes (on new leaves) and internode spines on outbred plants. Both inbred and outbred plants exposed to mechanical or caterpillar damage had shorter internodes than did control plants, but inbred damaged plants had longer inter-nodes than did outbred damaged plants. Control outbred plants produced significantly more flowers than did control inbred plants or damaged plants of either breeding type. Conclusions: Constitutive and induced structural defenses in horsenettle were negatively affected by inbreeding. Reduced flower production and internode length on damaged plants compared to controls suggests that defense induction entails significant costs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Plant Science