Environmentally triggered variability in the genetic variance–covariance of herbivory resistance of an exotic plant Solidago altissima

Yuzu Sakata, Shunsuke Utsumi, Timothy P. Craig, Joanne K. Itami, Mito Ikemoto, Takayuki Ohgushi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The variability in the genetic variance–covariance (G-matrix) in plant resistance and its role in the evolution of invasive plants have been long overlooked. We conducted an additional analysis of the data of a reciprocal transplant experiment with tall goldenrod, Solidago altissima, in multiple garden sites within its native range (USA) and introduced range (Japan). We explored the differences in G-matrix of resistance to two types of foliar herbivores: (a) a lace bug that is native to the USA and recently introduced to Japan, (b) and other herbivorous insects in response to plant origins and environments. A negative genetic covariance was found between plant resistances to lace bugs and other herbivorous insects, in all combinations of garden locations and plant origins except for US plants planted in US gardens. The G-matrix of the resistance indices did not differ between US and Japanese plants either in US or Japanese gardens, while it differed between US and Japanese gardens in both US and Japanese plants. Our results suggested that the G-matrix of the plant resistance may have changed in response to novel environmental differences including herbivore communities and/or other biotic and abiotic factors in the introduced range. This may have revealed a hidden trade-off between resistances, masked by the environmental factors in the origin range. These results suggest that the stability of the genetic covariance during invasion, and the environmentally triggered variability in the G-matrices of plant resistance may help to protect the plant against multiple herbivore species without changing its genetic architecture and that this may lead to a rapid adaptation of resistance in exotic plants. Local environments of the plant also have a critical effect on plant resistance and should be considered in order to understand trait evolution in exotic plants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3103-3111
Number of pages9
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We greatly appreciate T. Ida, K. Hashimoto, S. Hirano, S. Yamamura, M. Tokuda, S. Adachi, A. Yamasaki, and members of Laboratory of Systems Ecology in Saga University and Laboratory of Animal Ecology in Yamagata University for field work assistance. The present study was partly supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) through Grant-Aid for Science Research (B-25291102) to T. O., and the University of Minnesota Duluth and T. A. Craig for garden site support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • G-matrix
  • Solidago altissima
  • biological invasion
  • plant defense
  • plant-insect interaction
  • reciprocal transplant experiment


Dive into the research topics of 'Environmentally triggered variability in the genetic variance–covariance of herbivory resistance of an exotic plant Solidago altissima'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this