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Comparative foliar metabolomics of a tropical and a temperate forest community.

07:00 EST 12th November 2018 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Comparative foliar metabolomics of a tropical and a temperate forest community."

Plant enemies that attack chemically similar host species are thought to mediate competitive exclusion of chemically similar plants and select for chemical divergence among closely related species. This hypothesis predicts that plant defenses should diverge rapidly, minimizing phylogenetic signal. To evaluate this prediction, we quantified metabolomic similarity for 203 tree species that represent >89% of all individuals in large forest plots in Maryland and Panama. We constructed molecular networks based on mass spectrometry of all 203 species, quantified metabolomic similarity for all pairwise combinations of species, and used phylogenetically independent contrasts to evaluate how pairwise metabolomic similarity varies phylogenetically. Leaf metabolomes exhibited clear phylogenetic signal for the temperate plot, which is inconsistent with the prediction. In contrast, leaf metabolomes lacked phylogenetic signal for the tropical plot, with particularly low metabolomic similarity among congeners. In addition, community-wide variation in metabolomes was much greater for the tropical community, with single tropical genera supporting greater metabolomic variation than the entire temperate community. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that stronger plant-enemy interactions lead to more rapid divergence and greater metabolomic variation in tropical than temperate plants. Additional community-level foliar metabolomes will be required from tropical and temperate forests to evaluate this hypothesis.

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This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Ecology
ISSN: 0012-9658
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