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J Evol Biol. 2007 Nov;20(6):2092-100. Epub 2007 Sep 27.

Within and between generation phenotypic plasticity in trichome density of Mimulus guttatus.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA.


Mimulus guttatus (yellow monkeyflower) frequently produce glandular trichomes, a trait that may resist herbivory. Constitutive production of trichomes is variable both within and among populations of M. guttatus and most of this variation is genetic. This study demonstrates that damage on early leaves can induce increased trichome production on later leaves, a plastic response that is likely adaptive. Moreover, this study shows that this induction can be maternally transmitted, increasing trichome density in progeny before they experience herbivory. This transgenerational response must involve a yet undescribed epigenetic mechanism. These experiments also show genetic variation among plants in the capacity for both within and between plant generation induction. Despite the clear evolutionary importance of variation in constitutive and induced herbivory-resistance traits, few other studies have noted genetic variation in both within a plant species.

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