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Phylogenetic analysis of secondary metabolites in a plant community provides evidence for trade‑offs between biotic and abiotic stress tolerance

AuthorsMontesinos-Navarro, Alicia ; Pérez‑Clemente, Rosa; Sánchez‑Martín, Ricardo; Gómez Cadenas, Aurelio; Verdú, Miguel
KeywordsBiotic-abiotic stress
Gypsum outcrops
Metabolic tradeofs
Phylogenetic signal
Plant facilitation
Issue Date16-Apr-2020
PublisherSpringer Nature
CitationEvolutionary Ecology (2020)
AbstractPlants’ responses to conficting stresses may result in physiological trade-ofs due to the inter-dependent and costly nature of physiological investments. Physiological tradeofs have been proved within species, but to what extent these trade-ofs are the result of phylogenetic constraints remains poorly known. Environmental stresses can vary widely in diferent biomes, and therefore assessing physiological tradeofs across species must account for this variation. One way of doing so is to assess it within a community, where the co-occurring species have faced a shared combination of flters to establish. Considering a representative sample of species in a single community, we use a macroevolutionary approach to test the hypothesis that plant physiological trade-ofs are evolutionarily conserved within this community (i.e., closely-related species tend to solve the trade-ofs similarly). We analyze the content of fve metabolites in thirty co-occurring plant species, capturing their range of contrasting exposures to abiotic and biotic stresses (growing solitary and in vegetation patches). Our results support that species investment in response to abiotic stress (i.e., proline and abscisic acid content) is traded of against their investment to face biotic stress (i.e., jasmonic acid and salicylic acid), shown by the contrasting loadings of these two groups of metabolites in the frst axes of a principal component analysis (PCA). In addition, the metabolic strategies observed in this community are evolutionarily conserved, as closely related species tend to have similar scores in this PCA, and thus resemble each other in their balance. This is shown by a signifcant phylogenetic signal in the species’ scores along the frst axes of the PCA. Incorporating the evolutionary history of plant species into physiological studies can help to understand the response of plants to multiple stresses currently acting in ecological communities.
Publisher version (URL)https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10682-020-10044-2
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