Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
AgriGenomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Plant Mating Styles Influence Defense Evolution

Published: Friday, February 22, 2013
Last Updated: Friday, February 22, 2013
Bookmark and Share
When it comes to mating, plants do it in many ways.

On one end of the spectrum, there are plants that self-fertilize or mate with relatives (inbreeders); on the other are plants that mate with nonrelatives (outcrossers). The two types of mating styles have evolved very different defense strategies, Cornell researchers have found.

Inbreeders' defense systems become activated only after their leaves have been eaten or damaged. Outcrossing species, on the other hand, have defense systems that are always turned on.

The study of 56 species of nightshade was published online Feb. 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"The question of how inbreeding and outcrossing mating systems should influence the evolution of defenses has never been answered before at such a broad scale," said Stuart Campbell, the paper's lead author and a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of study co-author André Kessler, Cornell associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.

One implication of the defense system that activates only when needed, as with inbreeders, is that these plants have advantages for colonizing new areas.

"There is an association between the dispersal or invasiveness of a species and self-fertilization," said Campbell.

Plants that self-fertilize or inbreed do not require large populations to reproduce and colonize new areas. At the same time, if a plant species moves to a new area, it likely leaves behind many of its enemies. Without the constant threat of those enemies, inbreeders can save energy that might have gone to defense by employing a system that turns on only after being eaten. For example, some plants form a toxic chemical when their leaves get damaged.

Meanwhile, outcrossers that depend on larger populations to reproduce may have an evolutionary advantage by maintaining constant chemical and structural (i.e., thorns, thick hairs) defense systems against enemies that are drawn to the crowds of plants.

In the nightshade family of up to 4,000 species, the common ancestor was an outcrossing species, though the shift to inbreeding has independently occurred within the family more than 60 times in the course of evolution. The researchers examined the defenses of more than 50 wild species of nightshade (Solanaceae) including wild tobacco, pepper, tomato and potato species.

Campbell and Kessler identified 25 pairs of plants where each pair represented a species that had independently evolved an inbreeding reproductive strategy and an outcrossing relative. These pairings were set up with controls and experimental plants.

The pairs of experimental plants were exposed to tobacco hornworm caterpillars (Manduca sexta) that prefer to feed on nightshade. After 20 percent of each plant was eaten, leaves were removed both from controls and the experimental plants. The researchers found that on the undamaged control plants, caterpillars weighed less or died more often on outcrossing species. Caterpillars also performed poorly when they ate leaves from plants that had previously been eaten. But this induced effect was dramatically greater for inbreeding plants.

"We had known that the sex lives of plants can influence herbivores, but this is the first study to look across the evolutionary history of a plant family and examine the consequences of mating systems for defense evolution," Campbell said.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,200+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Pathogen Takes Control of Gypsy Moth Populations
A new fungal pathogen is killing gypsy moth caterpillars and crowding out communities of pathogens and parasites that previously destroyed these moth pests.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
$4.8M USAID Grant to Improve Food Security
To strengthen capacity to develop and disseminate genetically engineered eggplant in Bangladesh and the Philippines, the USAID has awarded Cornell a $4.8 million, three-year cooperative grant.
Friday, April 01, 2016
$5.5M NSF Grant Aims to Improve Rice Crops with Genome Editing
Researchers to precisely target, cut, remove and replace DNA in a living cell to improve rice.
Friday, May 08, 2015
Genetics Used to Improve Plants for Bioenergy
An upcoming genetics investigation into the symbiotic association between soil fungi and feedstock plants for bioenergy production could lead to more efficient uptake of nutrients, which would help limit the need for expensive and polluting fertilizers.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Pest Attacks Can Lead to Bigger Crop Yields
New project receive three-year funding of $498,000 from USDA.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Algal Genes May Boost Efficiency, Yield in Staple Crops
New research has taken a step toward employing genes from blue-green algae to improve staple crop photosynthesis.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Study to Focus on Rice Genes, Yield and Climate
Cornell researchers received a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to study relationships among rice genetics, crop yields and climate.
Thursday, May 01, 2014
New Alfalfa Variety Resists Ravenous Local Pest
The new variety has some resistance against the alfalfa snout beetle which has ravaged alfalfa fields.
Monday, April 28, 2014
Predators Delay Pest Resistance to Bt Crops
Crops genetically modified with the bacterium Bt(Bacillus thuringiensis) produce proteins that kill pest insects.
Monday, March 10, 2014
Shark, Human Proteins are Surprisingly Similar
Despite widespread fascination with sharks, the world’s oldest ocean predators have long been a genetic mystery.
Friday, December 06, 2013
Surprises Discovered in Decoded Kiwifruit Genome
DNA sequence of the kiwifruit has many genetic similarities between its 39,040 genes and other plant species, including potatoes and tomatoes.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Produce Perfect: Biotech Sweet Corn goes Unblemished
With the kernel-loving earworm, producing unblemished ears of sweet corn is difficult.
Monday, October 14, 2013
New Micro Water Sensor Can Aid Growers
Crop growers, wine grape and other fruit growers, food processors and even concrete makers all benefit from water sensors for accurate, steady and numerous moisture readings.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Partnership Homes in on Regenerative Medicine
Scientists are to advance healing techniques and technologies for animals and humans.
Friday, October 04, 2013
Using Genes to Rescue Animal and Plants from Extinction
With estimates of losing 15 to 40 percent of the world’s species over the next four decades researchers whether science should employ genetic engineering to the rescue.
Friday, September 27, 2013
Scientific News
Open Source Seed Initiative – A Welcome Boost to Global Crop Breeding
A team of plant breeders, farmers, non-profit agencies, seed advocates, and policymakers have created the Open Source Seed Initiative.
Four Newly-Identified Genes Could Improve Rice
A Japanese research team have applied a method used in human genetic analysis to rice and rapidly discovered four new genes that are potentially significant for agriculture. These findings could influence crop breeding and help combat food shortages caused by a growing population.
“Amazing Protein Diversity” Discovered in Maize
The genome of the corn plant – or maize, as it’s called almost everywhere except the US – “is a lot more exciting” than scientists have previously believed. So says the lead scientist in a new effort to analyze and annotate the depth of the plant’s genetic resources.
Invasive Species Could Cause Billions in Agriculture Damages
Invasive insects and pathogens could be a multi-billion-dollar threat to global agriculture and developing countries may be the biggest target, according to a team of international researchers.
Genetic Research Can Significantly Improve Drug Development
With drug development costs topping $1.2bn (£850 million) to get a single treatment to the point it can be sold and used in the clinic, could genetic analysis save hundreds of millions of dollars?
What Makes a Good Scientist?
It’s the journey, not just the destination that counts as a scientist when conducting research.
Scoliosis Linked to Disruptions in Spinal Fluid Flow
A new study in zebrafish suggests that irregular fluid flow through the spinal column brought on by gene mutations is linked to a type of scoliosis that can affect humans during adolescence.
More Research Needed to Ensure Gene Drive Safety
Gene-Drive modified organisms are not ready to be released into environment a new report calls for more research and robust assessment.
Genetic Basis of Petunia Variation Uncovered
A large international team of researchers, including scientists from Wageningen University, have now sequenced the entire genome of two different wild petunia species, and published this in the important scientific journal Nature Plants.
Genetically Engineered Crops Are Safe
Distinction between genetic engineering and conventional plant breeding becoming less clear, says new report on GE crops.
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,200+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!