Plant polyploidy and insect/plant interactions

John N. Thompson, Bradley M. Cunningham, Kari A. Segraves, David M. Althoff, Diane Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


We used flow cytometry and extensive geographic surveys of herbivore attack to test whether repeated evolution of autotetraploidy in the perennial herb Heuchera grossulariifolia Rydb. (Saxifragaceae) has created evolutionary barriers to attack by the specialist moth herbivore Greya politella (Prodoxidae). We found that the moth has colonized tetraploid as well as diploid populations, has colonized tetraploids of separate evolutionary origin, and, at least under some conditions, is more likely to attack tetraploids than diploids. Plant polyploidy therefore provides a potential mute out of specialization as an evolutionary dead end in phytophagous insect taxa as well as a potentially important mute to subsequent phylogenetic and geographic diversification of plant/insect interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)730-743
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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