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Journal Article

Phylogenetic correlations among chemical and physical plant defenses change with ontogeny

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Kariñho-Betancourt, E., Agrawal, A. A., Halitschke, R., & Núñez-Farfán, J. (2015). Phylogenetic correlations among chemical and physical plant defenses change with ontogeny. New Phytologist, 206(2), 796-806. doi:10.1111/nph.13300.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002E-0B53-F
Theory predicts patterns of defense across taxa based on notions of tradeoffs and synergism among defensive traits when plants and herbivores coevolve. Because the expression of characters changes ontogenetically, the evolution of plant strategies may be best understood by considering multiple traits along a trajectory of plant development. Here we addressed the ontogenetic expression of chemical and physical defenses in 12 Datura species, and tested for macroevolutionary correlations between defensive traits using phylogenetic analyses. We used liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry to identify the toxic tropane alkaloids of Datura, and also estimated leaf trichome density. We report three major patterns. First, we found different ontogenetic trajectories of alkaloids and leaf trichomes, with alkaloids increasing in concentration at the reproductive stage, whereas trichomes were much more variable across species. Second, the dominant alkaloids and leaf trichomes showed correlated evolution, with positive and negative associations. Third, the correlations between defensive traits changed across ontogeny, with significant relationships only occurring during the juvenile phase. The patterns in expression of defensive traits in the genus Datura are suggestive of adaptation to complex selective environments varying in space and time.