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The Relationship between Relative Growth Rate and Susceptibility to Aphids in Wild Barley under Different Nutrient Levels

I. A. M. Elberse, J. H. B. Turin, F. L. Wäckers, J. M. M. Van Damme and P. H. Van Tienderen
Oecologia
Vol. 137, No. 4 (Dec., 2003), pp. 564-571
Published by: Springer in cooperation with International Association for Ecology
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4223798
Page Count: 8
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The Relationship between Relative Growth Rate and Susceptibility to Aphids in Wild Barley under Different Nutrient Levels
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Abstract

The Resource Availability Hypothesis (RAH) states that plants with a low Relative Growth Rate (RGR) and high levels of defence against herbivores or pathogens are favoured in habitats with low resource availability, whereas plants with a high potential RGR and low levels of defence are favoured in environments with high resource availability. High levels of defence are expected to result in lower reproduction and/or growth of the herbivores or pathogens. To test this hypothesis, four accessions of each of nine natural Hordeum spontaneum (wild barley) populations were grown in a climate chamber under two levels of nutrient supply. Susceptibility to Schizaphis graminum (greenbug) was quantified by placing a single adult greenbug on each plant and measuring its realised fecundity after 8 days. Data on potential RGR were available from a previous experiment. No support for the RAH was found. The correlation between potential RGR and greenbug reproduction was not significant, neither at the high nor at the low level of nutrient supply. Furthermore, on average plants grown under high and low nutrients did not differ in susceptibility. However, accessions-within-populations differed in the way susceptibility was affected by nutrient supply, and most accessions had a higher susceptibility under nutrient-poor conditions. It could be that these accessions differed in the spectrum of secondary metabolites they produced. Whatever the cause, the genetic variation for the reaction in susceptibility to nutrient supply suggests that selection could act in favour of more or less plasticity in plants without any apparent change in potential RGR.

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