Plant Defense Mechanisms

Ecology of Fear in Tree Seedlings

Project Leaders: Colin Orians (w/Evan Preisser at University of Rhode Island and John Orrock at University of Wisconsin)

Even though plants cannot move, they are far from defenseless against their herbivores. It is well known that plant responses to damage alter their subsequent susceptibility to herbivores. Recently, it has been shown that plants can detect and respond to herbivore cues (referred to as ‘kairomones’) even before an attack begins. We are exploring the response of sugar maple seedlings to predatory cues at critical ontogenetic stages.

Herbivore-Induced Resource Sequestration

Project Leader: Colin Orians

Plants have evolved diverse mechanism to avoid herbivory. While many researchers focus on induced resistance our research focused on aspects of induced tolerance, specifically induced resource sequestration.

We demonstrated that herbivore cues cause greater export of resources from local and systemic leaf tissue and this results in an increase in resource pools in stem tissue. More recent work has examined the conditions that are expected to favor resource allocation as compared to growth and defense.

Research showing plant defense