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Oecologia. 2005 Oct;145(4):575-85. Epub 2005 Oct 13.

Resistance to herbicide and susceptibility to herbivores: environmental variation in the magnitude of an ecological trade-off.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolution, SUNY-Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5245, USA.


Trade-offs can maintain genetic diversity and constrain adaptation; however, their magnitude may depend on ecological factors. I considered whether resistance to the herbicide triazine in Amaranthus hybridus (Amaranthaceae) imposed the trade-off of increasing susceptibility to herbivorous insects. I grew triazine-resistant and triazine-susceptible plants under contrasting levels of light and fertilization, and quantified susceptibility to herbivores using the specialist Disonycha glabrata (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) and the generalist Trichoplusia ni (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Resistance to triazine increased susceptibility to both species of herbivorous insects, as manifested by greater feeding preference, growth, and survival of herbivores. However, these effects were more pronounced with T. ni and for plants grown under high light. My results demonstrate the presence of a trade-off between resistance to triazine and susceptibility to herbivorous insects that may in turn impose an ecologically based fitness cost, and illustrate the potential for this cost to vary across environments.

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