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Ecology. 2008 May;89(5):1181-7.

A chemical trait creates a genetic trade-off between intra- and interspecific competitive ability.

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Section of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.


The importance of non-resource-based mechanisms of competition between plant species has been increasingly recognized, but little is known about how genetic variation and evolutionary changes in the underlying competitive traits might affect species coexistence. I found that genetic variation in sinigrin concentration, a putative allelopathic agent in Brassica nigra, affected the fitness of three heterospecific neighbor species but did not affect neighboring B. nigra individuals. Investment in sinigrin led to a negative genetic correlation between intra- and interspecific competitive ability, which over many generations could provide a strong stabilizing force maintaining both species and genetic diversity in this system.

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