Transgenerational effects alter plant defence and resistance in nature

Publications Type: 
Journal Article
Publication Number: 

Colicchio, J. 2017. Transgenerational effects alter plant defence and resistance in nature. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 30(4): 664-680. doi: 10.1111/jeb.13042


Trichomes, or leaf hairs, are epidermal extensions that take a variety of forms and perform many functions in plants, including herbivore defence. In this study, I document genetically determined variation, within-generation plasticity, and a direct role of trichomes in herbivore defence for Mimulus guttatus. After establishing the relationship between trichomes and herbivory, I test for transgenerational effects of wounding on trichome density and herbivore resistance. Patterns of interannual variation in herbivore density and the high cost of plant defence makes plant–herbivore interactions a system in which transgenerational phenotypic plasticity (TPP) is apt to evolve. Here, I demonstrate that parental damage alters offspring trichome density and herbivore resistance in nature. Moreover, this response varies between populations. This is among the first studies to demonstrate that TPP contributes to variation in nature, and also suggests that selection can modify TPP in response to local conditions.
Keywords: herbivory, Mimulus, phenotypic plasticity, transgenerational plasticity, trichomes