New Synthesis—Back to the Future: New Approaches and Directions in Chemical Studies of Coevolution
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The concept of an arms race between herbivores and plants, associated with increases in diversity of plant secondary compounds, has long provided an appealing theoretical framework for evolutionary biologists pondering adaptive radiations, and has been a stimulus for studies of chemical ecology. While publications on coevolution are steadily increasing in ecology and evolutionary biology, such studies have stagnated in chemical ecology, even though modern chemical techniques have made it easier to examine coevolutionary predictions for phytochemical diversification. An example of what can be accomplished is illustrated by Kursar et al. (2009), who documented considerable divergence in effective antiherbivore defenses of the tropical plant genus Inga, indicating that an arms race between plants and herbivores caused rapid, divergent trait evolution. Interestingly, closely related Ingaspecies that occur together in tropical forests also have distinct defensive profiles driven by...
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- Kursar, T. A., K. G. Dexter, J. Lokvam, R. T. Pennington, J. E. Richardson, M. G. Weber, E. T. Murakami, C. Drake, R. McGregor, and P. D. Coley. 2009. The evolution of antiherbivore defenses and their contribution to species coexistence in the tropical tree genus Inga. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106:18073–18078.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar