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The genetics of indirect ecological effects-plant parasites and aphid herbivores.

Rowntree, JK and Zytynska, SE and Frantz, L and Hurst, B and Johnson, A and Preziosi, RF (2014) The genetics of indirect ecological effects-plant parasites and aphid herbivores. Frontiers in Genetics, 5. ISSN 1664-8021

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Abstract

When parasitic plants and aphid herbivores share a host, both direct and indirect ecological effects (IEEs) can influence evolutionary processes. We used a hemiparasitic plant (Rhinanthus minor), a grass host (Hordeum vulgare) and a cereal aphid (Sitobion avenae) to investigate the genetics of IEEs between the aphid and the parasitic plant, and looked to see how these might affect or be influenced by the genetic diversity of the host plants. Survival of R. minor depended on the parasite's population of origin, the genotypes of the aphids sharing the host and the genetic diversity in the host plant community. Hence the indirect effects of the aphids on the parasitic plants depended on the genetic environment of the system. Here, we show that genetic variation can be important in determining the outcome of IEEs. Therefore, IEEs have the potential to influence evolutionary processes and the continuity of species interactions over time.

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