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      Geographic parthenogenesis and plant-enemy interactions in the common dandelion

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          Abstract

          Background

          Many species with sexual and asexual variants show a pattern of geographic parthenogenesis where asexuals have broader and higher-latitude distribution than sexuals. Because sexual reproduction is often considered a costly evolutionary strategy that is advantageous in the face of selection by coevolving pests and pathogens, one possible explanation for geographic parthenogenesis is that populations at higher latitudes are exposed to fewer pests and pathogens. We tested this hypothesis in the common dandelion ( Taraxacum officinale), a species with well-established geographic parthenogenesis, by screening prevalence and effects of several specialized pests and pathogens in natural dandelion populations.

          Results

          We did a population survey of 18 dandelion populations along a geographic transect that ranged from the area where sexual and asexual dandelions co-occur northward into the area where only asexuals occur. In addition we used four southern and four northern populations in a 8x8 cross-inoculation greenhouse experiment in which plants were exposed experimentally to each other’s natural field soil microbial communities. The cross-inoculation experiment indicated a higher pathogenicity of soil microbial communities from the southern, mostly sexual, populations compared to soil microbial communities from the northern asexual populations. Northern dandelion populations also showed reduced infestation by a specialized seed-eating weevil. A similar trend of reduced rust fungus infection in northern populations was observed but this trend was not statistically significant.

          Conclusions

          The prevalence of pests and pathogens decreased along the south-to-north axis of geographic parthenogenesis. This highlights the potential of biotic interactions in shaping patterns of geographic parthenogenesis.

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          Most cited references56

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          HERBIVORY AND PLANT DEFENSES IN TROPICAL FORESTS

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            Is There a Latitudinal Gradient in the Importance of Biotic Interactions?

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              Sex versus Non-Sex versus Parasite

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                BMC Evol Biol
                BMC Evol. Biol
                BMC Evolutionary Biology
                BioMed Central
                1471-2148
                2013
                28 January 2013
                : 13
                : 23
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Terrestrial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Droevendaalsesteeg 10, Wageningen, 6708 PB, The Netherlands
                Article
                1471-2148-13-23
                10.1186/1471-2148-13-23
                3562243
                23356700
                788b41f2-7bcc-45f8-a271-ace54c7cd5f9
                Copyright ©2013 Verhoeven and Biere; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                History
                : 26 June 2012
                : 16 January 2013
                Categories
                Research Article

                Evolutionary Biology
                red queen,taraxacum,plant-insect interactions,plant-pathogen interactions,soil feedback

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