Alan Kergunteuil, Laureline Humair, Zuzana Münzbergová and Sergio Rasmann
Plants that are commonly found living across large geographic areas need to adapt to the local environmental conditions. We here asked whether plants adapting to different precipitation and temperature regimes, in addition to reshuffling their growth forms, change their chemistry and thus their interactions with herbivores and predators. For this we studied populations of red fescue (Festuca rubra), a common grass with a very large geographic distribution, and used the natural precipitation and temperature variation that exists in the Norwegian Fjords to explore our question. We found that that plants originating from wetter and warmer conditions produced more biomass. Also, when attacked by herbivores, their roots produced odor blends that were very effective in recruiting predatory nematodes near the site of damage. Therefore, we here showed that plants growing in specific climatic conditions reshape their chemistry that mediates interactions with both foes and friends. Ultimately, this research shines further light on how climate change might impact natural communities in the future.