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Trends Ecol Evol. 2005 Aug;20(8):441-8.

Facing herbivory as you grow up: the ontogeny of resistance in plants.

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University of Missouri-St Louis Department of Biology, One University Drive, St Louis, MO 63121, USA.

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  • Trends Ecol Evol. 2005 Oct;20(10):526.


As plants develop from seeds to seedlings, juveniles and mature stages, their ontogeny can constrain the expression of resistance to herbivore damage. Nevertheless, ecological and evolutionary theories regarding interactions between plants, herbivores and their natural enemies are largely based on observations and experiments conducted at a single ontogenetic stage. Owing to resource allocation and architectural constraints in plants, and the influence of herbivore foraging behavior, resistance to herbivores is likely to change during plant development. We propose that such changes are likely to occur in a non-linear fashion and suggest that the role of ontogeny should be incorporated as an important factor in new syntheses of plant defense theory.


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