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Oecologia. 2006 Mar;147(3):461-8. Epub 2005 Dec 2.

Members only: induced systemic resistance to herbivory in a clonal plant network.

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Experimental Plant Ecology, Institute for Wetland and Water Research, Radboud University Nijmegen, Toernooiveld 1, 6525 ED, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


The stoloniferous herb Trifolium repens was used to study the expression of induced systemic resistance (ISR) to the generalist caterpillar Spodoptera exigua in interconnected ramets of clonal fragments. The ISR was assessed as caterpillar preference in dual choice tests between control and systemically induced plants. The ISR was detected in young ramets, after inducing older sibling ramets on the same stolon by a controlled herbivore attack. However, older ramets did not receive a defense induction signal from younger ramets unless the predominant phloem flow was reversed by means of basal shading. This provides evidence for the notion that in T. repens the clone-internal expression of ISR is coupled to phloem transport and follows source-sink gradients. The inducibility of the genotypes was not linked to their constitutive ability to produce cyanide, implying the absence of a trade-off between these two defense traits. To our knowledge, this is the first study that explores ISR to herbivory in the context of physiological integration in potentially extensive clonal plant networks.

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