Coordinated resource allocation to plant growth–defense tradeoffs

Russell K. Monson, Amy M. Trowbridge, Richard L. Lindroth, Manuel T. Lerdau

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Plant resource allocation patterns often reveal tradeoffs that favor growth (G) over defense (D), or vice versa. Ecologists most often explain G–D tradeoffs through principles of economic optimality, in which negative trait correlations are attributed to the reconciliation of fitness costs. Recently, researchers in molecular biology have developed ‘big data’ resources including multi-omic (e.g. transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic) studies that describe the cellular processes controlling gene expression in model species. In this synthesis, we bridge ecological theory with discoveries in multi-omics biology to better understand how selection has shaped the mechanisms of G–D tradeoffs. Multi-omic studies reveal strategically coordinated patterns in resource allocation that are enabled by phytohormone crosstalk and transcriptional signal cascades. Coordinated resource allocation justifies the framework of optimality theory, while providing mechanistic insight into the feedbacks and control hubs that calibrate G–D tradeoff commitments. We use the existing literature to describe the coordinated resource allocation hypothesis (CoRAH) that accounts for balanced cellular controls during the expression of G–D tradeoffs, while sustaining stored resource pools to buffer the impacts of future stresses. The integrative mechanisms of the CoRAH unify the supply- and demand-side perspectives of previous G–D tradeoff theories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1051-1066
Number of pages16
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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