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Abstract Detail


Brown, Max [1], Frachon, Natacha [2], Metherell, Chris [3], Moore, Paloma [4], Twyford, Alex [5].

Host species not functional group determines the performance of a parasitic plant.

Parasitic plants are those that poach organic compounds, water and mineral nutrients from a host plant to thrive and reproduce. In generalist parasitic plants many hosts can be utilised, from across the vascular plant phylogeny. We use Eyebrights (Euphrasia L.) to understand more how generalist parasitism operates. The prevailing view is that the functional group of host determines performance of generalist parasitic plants. We test this in a common garden experiment of 1300 Euphrasia individuals grown on 45 host species in five functional groups. We show that functional group has little effect on Euphrasia performance, instead high quality hosts are found across the plant phylogeny. In the case of lifetime reproductive output, a major facet of performance, the phylogenetic signal of host species is high. Further, between different Euphrasia species in a separate common garden experiment, we find evidence of host specialisation. These results show that host-parasite specialisation occurs even in generalist hemiparasites and may give insight into local adaptation of different Euphrasia species.

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1 - University of Edinburgh, Charlotte Auerbach Road, Room 1.55, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH93FL, United Kingdom
2 - Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh
3 - Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland
4 - University of Edinburgh
5 - University Of Edinburgh, Institute Of Evolutionary Biology, Ashworth Laboratories, Charlotte Auerbach Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3FL, United Kingdom

parasitic plant
host specialisation
parasite fitness
local adaptation

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: ECO1, Ecology 1: Species Interactions
Location: Tucson A/Starr Pass
Date: Monday, July 29th, 2019
Time: 10:15 AM
Number: ECO1007
Abstract ID:330
Candidate for Awards:None

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