Variation in the Expression of Chemical Defenses in Alliaria petiolata (Brassicaceae) in the Field and Common Garden

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I examined glucosinolates, trypsin inhibitors (TI), and peroxidase (POD) activity in garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) plants growing naturally in Wright State University's Forest Preserve and in a common garden experiment in plants from the same populations conducted in the greenhouse. In the field, first-year plants expressed each defense, but defense levels varied significantly in plants from different sites in the forest. Patterns in site variation were consistent for glucosinolate and POD, but not for TI. The TI and POD levels were increased by mechanical wounding, but glucosinolate levels were unaffected. In the greenhouse, plants expressed each defense at higher levels than in the field, but defense levels did not vary among plants collected from each site in the field. The POD activity was increased by wounding, but glucosinolate and TI levels where unaffected. Plants from each site varied in height and leaf length when measured shortly after transplantation, but site differences substantially diminished after 4 wk. Site-based variation in defense expression in the field, which disappeared in the greenhouse, was presumably related to differences in environmental quality among the sites. Sites were shown to vary in soil moisture content, soil pH, nutrient levels, and presumably light quantity or quality. Despite an apparent lack of genetic variation in defense across sites in the field, the constitutive expression of these three chemical defenses, increases due to wounding, and phenotypic variation across sites could reduce herbivore success on garlic mustard individuals and slow the rate of herbivore adaptation to garlic mustard populations.