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Title: Are the metabolomic responses to folivory of closely related plant species linked to macroevolutionary and plant-folivore coevolutionary processes?

The debate whether the coevolution of plants and insects or macroevolutionary processes (phylogeny) is the main driver determining the arsenal of molecular defensive compounds of plants remains unresolved. Attacks by herbivorous insects affect not only the composition of defensive compounds in plants but the entire metabolome (the set of molecular metabolites), including defensive compounds. Metabolomes are the final products of genotypes and are directly affected by macroevolutionary processes, so closely related species should have similar metabolomic compositions and may respond in similar ways to attacks by folivores. We analyzed the elemental compositions and metabolomes of needles from Pinus pinaster, P. nigra and P. sylvestris to determine if these closely related Pinus species with different coevolutionary histories with the caterpillars of the processionary moth respond similarly to attacks by this lepidopteran. All pines had different metabolomes and metabolic responses to herbivorous attack. The metabolomic variation among the pine species and the responses to folivory reflected their macroevolutionary relationships, with P. pinaster having the most divergent metabolome. The concentrations of phenolic metabolites were generally not higher in the attacked trees, which had lower concentrations of terpenes, suggesting that herbivores avoid individuals with high concentrations of terpenes. Our results suggest that macroevolutionary historymore » plays important roles in the metabolomic responses of these pine species to folivory, but plant-insect coevolution probably constrains those responses. Combinations of different evolutionary factors and trade-offs are likely responsible for the different responses of each species to folivory, which is not necessarily exclusively linked to plant-insect coevolution.« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
48729; KP1704020
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Ecology and Evolution, 6(13):4372-4386
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US), Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory