Rapid evolutionary trade-offs between resistance to herbivory and tolerance to abiotic stress in an invasive plant

Wandong Yin, Lifeng Zhou, Kaiwen Yang, Jinyu Fang, Arjen Biere, Ragan M. Callaway, Mingke Wu, Hongwei Yu, Yu Shi, Jianqing Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Release from enemies can lead to rapid evolution in invasive plants, including reduced metabolic investment in defence. Conversely, reassociation with enemies leads to renewed evolution of defence, but the potential costs of this evolution are poorly documented. We report increased resistance of the invader Ambrosia artemisiifolia after reassociation with a coevolved specialist herbivore, and that this increase corresponds with reduced abiotic stress tolerance. Herbivore resistance was higher, but drought tolerance was lower in plants from populations with a longer reassociation history, and this corresponded with changes in phenylpropanoids involved in insect resistance and abiotic stress tolerance. These changes were corroborated by shifts in the expression of underlying biosynthetic genes and plant anti-oxidants. Together, our findings suggest rapid evolution of plant traits after reassociation with coevolved enemies, resulting in genetically based shifts in investment between abiotic and biotic stress responses, providing insights into co-evolution, plant invasion and biological control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)942-954
Number of pages13
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Ambrosia artemisiifolia
  • Ophraella communa
  • antioxidant
  • biological control
  • biological invasions
  • drought stress
  • evolution of increased competitive ability
  • quantitative defence
  • reassociation
  • secondary metabolites
  • Insecta
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Plants
  • Herbivory/physiology
  • Biological Evolution
  • Animals


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