Genetic variation and constraints on the evolution of defense against spittlebug (Philaenus spumarius) herbivory in Mimulus guttatus. Academic Article uri icon


  • Plants mediate carbon into most ecosystems and are thus under persistent attack by diverse enemies. The evolution of defense against such assaults will depend on the availability of genetic variation, as well as the costs and constraints on defense. We estimated the magnitude of genetic variation for defense against spittlebug (Philaenus spumarius) herbivory in Mimulus guttatus using a diallel cross-grown in a greenhouse. Except for flowering time, additive genetic variation for the plant traits we measured was negligible, regardless of herbivory environment. In contrast, nonadditive genetic variation contributed significantly to all plant traits measured. We found significant additive genetic variation among plants for biomass of adult spittlebugs, suggesting heritability for resistance to herbivory. The other putative resistance trait measured, spittlebug maturation time, was not significantly heritable. We found no evidence for significant genetic variation for tolerance to herbivory except for a small non-nuclear paternal contribution to tolerance for flower number. Additive genetic correlations indicated that more resistant plant genotypes (in terms of adult spittlebug biomass) were also smaller in the absence of spittlebugs, suggesting a potential cost of resistance to herbivory. We found no other significant genetic correlations indicating a cost of defense, nor did we find evidence for a tradeoff between resistance and tolerance to herbivory. Overall, these results suggest the future adaptive evolution of tolerance to spittlebugs in this population will be limited primarily by available genetic variation, whereas the future evolution of antibiosis resistance may be constrained by allocation costs of resistance.

author list (cited authors)

  • Ivey, C. T., Carr, D. E., & Eubanks, M. D.

complete list of authors

  • Ivey, CT||Carr, DE||Eubanks, MD

publication date

  • January 1, 2008 11:11 AM