Modelling the interaction between light competition and herbivore feeding patterns

Plants usually compete with neighbouring plants for resources such as light as well as defend themselves against herbivorous insects. This requires investment of limiting resources, resulting in optimal resource distribution patterns and trade-offs between growth- and defence-related traits. A plant’s competitive success is determined by the spatial distribution of its resources in the canopy.

Simulated plant phenotypes
Simulated plant phenotype in a low density of 1 plant m–2 (A, B) and a high density of 25 plants m–2 (C, D), showing isolated plants in the generative stage (A, C) and a field of simulated plants in the vegetative stage (B, D).

de Vries et al. use a 3D functional-structural plant (FSP) model for Brassica nigra that mechanistically simulates light competition and herbivory to investigate the interaction between competition and herbivore feeding location on plant performance. The model predicts that plants can tolerate herbivory under low competition pressure but face higher costs of herbivore feeding on young compared to old leaves under strong competition pressure.

This paper is part of the Annals of Botany Special Issue on Functional-Structural Plant Growth Modelling. It will be free access until June 2018, then available only to subscribers until April 2019 when it will be free access again.

Reference List

De Vries, J., Poelman, E. H., Anten, N., & Evers, J. B. (2018). Elucidating the interaction between light competition and herbivore feeding patterns using functional–structural plant modelling. Annals of Botany, 121(5), 1019–1031.