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1.  Plant-Species Diversity Correlates with Genetic Variation of an Oligophagous Seed Predator 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94105.
Several characteristics of habitats of herbivores and their food-plant communities, such as plant-species composition and plant quality, influence population genetics of both herbivores and their host plants. We investigated how different ecological and geographic factors affect genetic variation in and differentiation of 23 populations of the oligophagous seed predator Lygaeus equestris (Heteroptera) in southwestern Finland and in eastern Sweden. We tested whether genetic differentiation of the L. equestris populations was related to the similarity of vegetation, and whether there was more within-population genetic variation in habitats with a high number of plant species or in those with a large population of the primary food plant, Vincetoxicum hirundinaria. We also tested whether genetic differentiation of the populations was related to the geographic distance, and whether location of the populations on islands or on mainland, island size, or population size affected within-population genetic variation. Pairwise FST ranged from 0 to 0.1 indicating low to moderate genetic differentiation of populations. Differentiation increased with geographic distance between the populations, but was not related to the similarity of vegetation between the habitats. Genetic variation within the L. equestris populations did not increase with the population size of the primary food plant. However, the more diverse the plant community the higher was the level of genetic variation within the L. equestris population. Furthermore, the level of genetic variation did not vary significantly between island and mainland populations. The effect of the population size on within-population genetic variation was related to island size. Usually small populations are susceptible to loss of genetic variation, but small L. equestris populations on large islands seemed to maintain a relatively high level of within-population genetic variation. Our findings suggest that, in addition to geographic and species-specific ecological factors, the plant community affects population genetic structure of oligophagous herbivores.
PMCID: PMC3984091  PMID: 24728342
2.  The role of inbreeding and outbreeding in herbivore resistance and tolerance in Vincetoxicum hirundinaria 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(3):547-555.
Background and Aims
Inbreeding via self-fertilization may have negative effects on plant fitness (i.e. inbreeding depression). Outbreeding, or cross-fertilization between genetically dissimilar parental plants, may also disrupt local adaptation or allelic co-adaptation in the offspring and again lead to reduced plant fitness (i.e. outbreeding depression). Inbreeding and outbreeding may also increase plant vulnerability to natural enemies by altering plant quality or defence. The effects of inbreeding and outbreeding on plant size and response to herbivory in the perennial herb, Vincetoxicum hirundinaria, were investigated.
Greenhouse experiments were conducted using inbred and outbred (within- and between-population) offspring of 20 maternal plants from four different populations, quantifying plant germination, size, resistance against the specialist folivore, Abrostola asclepiadis, and tolerance of simulated defoliation.
Key Results
Selfed plants were smaller and more susceptible to damage by A. asclepiadis than outcrossed plants. However, herbivore biomass on selfed and outcrossed plants did not differ. The effects of inbreeding on plant performance and resistance did not differ among plant populations or families, and no inbreeding depression at all was found in tolerance of defoliation. Between-population outcrossing had no effect on plant performance or resistance against A. asclepiadis, indicating a lack of outbreeding depression.
Since inbreeding depression negatively affects plant size and herbivore resistance, inbreeding may modify the evolution of the interaction between V. hirundinaria and its specialist folivore. The results further suggest that herbivory may contribute to the maintenance of a mixed mating system of the host plants by selecting for outcrossing and reduced susceptibility to herbivore attack, and thus add to the growing body of evidence on the effects of inbreeding on the mating system evolution of the host plants and the dynamics of plant–herbivore interactions.
PMCID: PMC3158690  PMID: 21803741
Inbreeding depression; outbreeding depression; resistance, tolerance; Vincetoxicum hirundinaria; Abrostola asclepiadis; mating system
3.  Plant Chemistry and Local Adaptation of a Specialized Folivore 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e38225.
Local adaptation is central for creating and maintaining spatial variation in plant-herbivore interactions. Short-lived insect herbivores feeding on long-lived plants are likely to adapt to their local host plants, because of their short generation time, poor dispersal, and geographically varying selection due to variation in plant defences. In a reciprocal feeding trial, we investigated the impact of geographic variation in plant secondary chemistry of a long-lived plant, Vincetoxicum hirundinaria, on among-population variation in local adaptation of a specialist leaf-feeding herbivore, Abrostola asclepiadis. The occurrence and degree of local adaptation varied among populations. This variation correlated with qualitative and quantitative differences in plant chemistry among the plant populations. These findings provide insights into the mechanisms driving variation in local adaptation in this specialized plant-herbivore interaction.
PMCID: PMC3364215  PMID: 22666493

Results 1-3 (3)