Search This Site

How does resistance to disease change with age in a wild plant species?

Presenters Name: 
Indigo Ballister
Co Presenters Name: 
Primary Research Mentor: 
Emily Bruns
Secondary Research Mentor: 
Janis Antonovics
11:00 - 12:15
Time of Presentation: 
2019 - 11:00am to 12:15pm
Newcomb Hall Ballroom
Presentation Type: 
Presentations Academic Category: 
Grant Program Recipient: 
Not a Recipient

Disease resistance is known to increase with age across a wide variety of plant and animal systems. However, it is unclear whether this increase in resistance is simply a by-product of growth and development, or the result of differential selection for resistance at juvenile and adult stages. A key question is whether the level of resistance across different ages is genetically correlated, as this will determine the capacity for independent resistance evolution at different ages. I studied age-specific resistance to a sterilizing disease (Microbotryum violaceum) in the perennial herb, Silene latifolia. I planted 10 maternal families at different times to generate four age groups (1, 2, 4 and 6 months), and inoculated these with Microbotryum, to determine resistance level. As predicted, older plants were significantly more resistant to the disease than younger plants, with the biggest difference in resistance occurring between 2 and 4 months of age. There was significantly more variation in resistance within the younger age groups (1- and 2-month) than in the older (4- and 6-month) cohorts. In addition, the traits were not strongly correlated, and juvenile resistance was not a good predictor of adult resistance. These results indicate that juvenile and adult resistance are not correlated, and could likely evolve independently.