Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 4, pp 1597–1604 | Cite as

Screening for induced herbivore resistance in Swedish intertidal seaweeds

  • Gunilla B. TothEmail author
Research Article


Terrestrial plants have long been known to induce resistance towards herbivores in response to direct grazing, and strong evidence of inter-plant information transfer through volatile signals has been reported recently. Still, little is known about information exchange in aquatic plant–herbivore interactions. In this study, 12 Swedish seaweed species were exposed either to direct grazing by a generalist crustacean herbivore (Idotea granulosa), or to waterborne signals produced by actively feeding herbivores for 1 week. In order to test for the presence of induced chemical resistance in the different seaweed species, the dried and homogenized seaweed tissues were incorporated into an agar matrix, and herbivores were allowed to choose between the resulting control and induced artificial diets in two different two-choice feeding trials. The herbivores were actively feeding from all seaweed species in the induction experiments, although the amount of seaweed tissue consumed differed significantly between species. A chemically based induced herbivore resistance was found in response to direct grazing in four of the tested seaweed species (two red, one brown, and one green seaweed species). Furthermore, four seaweeds (one red, two brown, and one green seaweed species) induced resistance towards further grazing in response to waterborne chemical signals. Several seaweed species responded differently when exposed to different herbivore-related cues, indicating that both cues and responses can be highly specific. The results show that herbivore-induced resistance is present in 7 of 12 of the tested Swedish seaweed species, but that different signals (i.e., direct grazing and waterborne cues) elicit complex responses in the seaweeds.


Artificial Diet Brown Seaweed Induction Experiment Agar Disc Seaweed Species 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I am grateful to all staff and students at Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory for their helpfulness and hospitality. I would like to thank A. Lindgren, G. Nylund, A. Pavia, and J. Pavia for help with collecting seaweeds and herbivores, and for practical assistance with the induction experiments. This study was financially supported by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Objective 2 West Sweden, and by the Swedish Research Council through contract 621-2002-289.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marine Ecology, Tjärnö Marine Biological LaboratoryGöteborg UniversityStrömstadSweden

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