Aspen Bibliography


Polyploidy and Growth—Defense Tradeoffs in Natural Populations of Western Quaking Aspen

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Author ORCID Identifier

Justin DeRose

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of Chemical Ecology




Springer New York LLC

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Polyploidy, the expression of more than two sets of chromosomes, is common in plants, and is thought to influence plant trait expression and drive plant species evolution. The degree to which polyploidy influences interactions among physiological processes such as growth and defense in natural populations through its effect on phenotypic variability is poorly understood. We link broad plant genotypic features (including polyploidy) to phenotypic expression of growth and chemical defense in natural populations of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) to examine patterns in resource allocation that might drive growth-defense tradeoffs. Quaking aspen are capable of rapid growth, and are also a primary food plant for a large range of herbivores, including insects and ungulates. While often diploid, aspen can exhibit polyploidy as triploid clones. We tested for the effect of genotype, cytotype (ploidy level, divided between diploids and triploids), and ramet age on relationships between growth and leaf chemistry across natural aspen clones in northern Utah. Substantial genotype variability in growth and leaf chemistry occurred across both cytotypes. Phenolic glycosides, but not condensed tannins, were negatively related to growth. Ramet age was also negatively related to growth. Phenolic glycosides were negatively related to condensed tannins, but only for the diploid clones. Triploid clones exhibited ~ 20% higher levels of phenolic glycosides than diploids. Growth in quaking aspen was likely sacrificed for the production of phenolic glycosides. Our study underscores the importance of considering polyploidy, genetic variability, and ramet age in understanding growth-defense tradeoffs in natural populations of clonal organisms, such as quaking aspen.