The Dilemma of Plants: To Grow or Defend

  title={The Dilemma of Plants: To Grow or Defend},
  author={Daniel A. Herms and William J. Mattson},
  journal={The Quarterly Review of Biology},
  pages={283 - 335}
Physiological and ecological constraints play key roles in the evolution of plant growth patterns, especially in relation to defenses against herbivores. Phenotypic and life history theories are unified within the growth-differentiation balance (GDB) framework, forming an integrated system of theories explaining and predicting patterns of plant defense and competitive interactions in ecological and evolutionary time. Plant activity at the cellular level can be classified as growth (cell… 

Physiological and Abiotic Determinants of Competitive Ability and Herbivore Resistance

A model is outlined in which environmental effects on the phenotypic expression of constitutive secondary metabolism are examined within the theoiy of source/sink interactions and the quadratic response of secondary metabolism to resource availability predicted by the model is proposed to be an adaptive response to physiological constraints and abiotic stress.

Trade-Offs Between Plant Growth and Defense Against Insect Herbivory : An Emerging Mechanistic Synthesis

A fitness-imposed constraint on two competing functions, resulting in patterns of negative association between the functions is proposed, and a unifying framework for growth–defense trade-offs is proposed as a means to study the plant’s allocation of limiting resources.

Growth-Defense Tradeoffs in Plants: A Balancing Act to Optimize Fitness

Evidence supporting the growth-defense tradeoff concept is addressed, as well as known interactions between defense signaling and growth signaling, which should provide a foundation for the development of breeding strategies to maximize crop yield to meet rising global food and biofuel demands.

Growth-defense tradeoffs in plants: a balancing act to optimize fitness.

Evidence supporting the growth-defense tradeoff concept is addressed, as well as known interactions between defense signaling and growth signaling, which should provide a foundation for the development of breeding strategies to maximize crop yield to meet rising global food and biofuel demands.

Growth–Defense Tradeoffs in Plants: A Balancing Act to Optimize Fitness

Growth–defense tradeoffs are thought to occur in plants due to resource restrictions, which demand prioritization towards either growth or defense, depending on external and internal factors. These


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Testing the optimal defense theory and the growth-differentiation balance hypothesis in Arabidopsis thaliana

Although A. thaliana was highly tolerant to defoliation, young leaves were more valuable than old in general, and young leaves on bolting plants were the most valuable leaf class in particular.

Plant Growth-Defense Trade-Offs: Molecular Processes Leading to Physiological Changes

The comprehension of plant growth-defense trade-offs from the molecular basis to the phenotypic expression is one of the fundamentals for developing sustainable agriculture and will contribute to the increasing of knowledge on this topic, which have a great importance for future development of agricultural crop production.

Ontogenetic changes in the targets of natural selection in three plant defenses.

The inclusion of whole-plant ontogeny as a key source of variation in plant defense revealed that the targets and intensity of selection change along the development of plants, indicating that the influence of natural selection cannot be inferred without the assessment of ontogenetic strategies in the expression of multiple defenses.

The Evolution of Resistance and Tolerance to Herbivores

This review examines the conditions that promote the evolutionary stability of mixed defense strategies in plants in the light of available empirical and theoretical evidence and highlights unresolved issues for future development.



Allocating Resources to Reproduction and DefenseNew assessments of the costs and benefits of allocation patterns in plants are relating ecological roles to resource use

Variation in resource allocation occurs through differences in the chemical composition of structures, the relative mass of different structures or organs, and the relative numbers ofDifferent structures a plant produces.


Data is reviewed suggesting that at least in certain cases, architectural constraints affect the range of morphological plasticity that can be expressed and it is postulate that when these constraints are present, plants consist not only of morphology subunits but, as Adams (4) first suggested, of physiological subunits as well.

The ecological significance of plasticity.

It is suggested that plasticity is of vital importance in resource acquisition by plants and is part of the foraging mechanisms which project new leaves and roots into the resource-rich zones of the constantly changing environmental mosaic created by the activity of competing plants.

Physiological Consequences of Modular Growth in Plants

Experiments confirm that the exchanges of assimilate between modules are limited, but not fixed (the system can adapt to damage), and the distribution system is vulnerable to exchanges that might benefit individual modules but that would reduce the inclusive fitness of the genome.

Evolution of Insect/Host Plant Relationships

  • T. Jermy
  • Biology
    The American Naturalist
  • 1984
Host plant selection is mainly a behavioral process which is governed primarily by chemoreception, and the emergence of specific insect/host plant relationships most likely results from evolutionary changes in the insects' chemosensory systems.

The role of water in the regulation of plant development

The hypothesis that water is the factor that normally limits the rate of growth and metabolic activity in the intact plant is supported by the unique capacity of water to perform three basic functions.

Constraints on the evolution of biochemical pathways

The considerable constraints that can be imposed on the evolution of primary metabolic pathways are apparent in the carbon pathway of photosynthesis in plants, and one evolutionary trend in angiosperms is towards more highly toxic allelochemicals to provide protection from herbivory or microbial attack.

Tree life history strategies: the role of defenses

Analysis of energy partitioning between defensive investments and growth in woody plants indicates that increasing a tree's life-span should require increased energy investment in protective measures such as thick bark and defensive chemicals, but it is hypothesized that rapid growth can substitute for these defenses, but the consequence is rapid decline upon reaching maturity.

Growth Differentiation-Balance Relationships in Pines Affect Their Resistance to Bark Beetles (Coleoptera: Scolytidae)

It is suggested that moderate environmental stresses increase tree resistance to bark beetle attack because the production of defensive compounds increases in response to any environmental conditions that do not adversely affect photosynthesis and translocation while reducing the use of available photosynthates in competing growth processes.

Carbon/nutrient balance of boreal plants in relation to vertebrate herbivory

Fundamental differences between the response of woody plants and graminoids to vertebrate herbivory suggest that the dynamics of browsing systems and grazing systems are qualitatively different.