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Oecologia. 2007 Oct;153(4):921-30. Epub 2007 Jul 3.

Costs and benefits of induced resistance in a clonal plant network.

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Department of Ecology, Radboud University Nijmegen, Toernooiveld 1, 6525 ED Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Plant defense theory suggests that inducible resistance has evolved to reduce the costs of constitutive defense expression. To assess the functional and potentially adaptive value of induced resistance it is necessary to quantify the costs and benefits associated with this plastic response. The ecological and evolutionary viability of induced defenses ultimately depends on the long-term balance between advantageous and disadvantageous consequences of defense induction. Stoloniferous plants can use their inter-ramet connections to share resources and signals and to systemically activate defense expression after local herbivory. This network-specific early-warning system may confer clonal plants with potentially high benefits. However, systemic defense induction can also be costly if local herbivory is not followed by a subsequent attack on connected ramets. We found significant costs and benefits of systemic induced resistance by comparing growth and performance of induced and control plants of the stoloniferous herb Trifolium repens in the presence and absence of herbivores.

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