39 Latitudinal gradients in plant-herbivore interactions in an invasive grass Phragmites australis in North America
We performed common garden experiments in Rhode Island and Louisiana to quantify defense characteristics (leaf toughness, phenolics concentration), plant palatability to herbivore (colony growth rate of aphid Hyalopterus pruni) and nutrient levels (C and N). We found that traits associated with P. australis-herbivore interactions were strongly dependent on latitude, genotype, and origin (native vs. exotic). Both the native and exotic genotypes showed parallel latitudinal gradients on defense traits and palatability suggesting a genetic basis for these gradients. It shows that the latitudinal clines evolved in exotic genotype in less than 100 years. Our data also suggest that escape from natural enemies may contribute to the success of the exotic genotype in North America.
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