Predictability of Biotic Stress Structures Plant Defence Evolution

Daan Mertens, Karina Boege, André Kessler, Julia Koricheva, Jennifer S. Thaler, Noah K. Whiteman, Erik H. Poelman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


To achieve ecological and reproductive success, plants need to mitigate a multitude of stressors. The stressors encountered by plants are highly dynamic but typically vary predictably due to seasonality or correlations among stressors. As plants face physiological and ecological constraints in responses to stress, it can be beneficial for plants to evolve the ability to incorporate predictable patterns of stress in their life histories. Here, we discuss how plants predict adverse conditions, which plant strategies integrate predictability of biotic stress, and how such strategies can evolve. We propose that plants commonly optimise responses to correlated sequences or combinations of herbivores and pathogens, and that the predictability of these patterns is a key factor governing plant strategies in dynamic environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)444-456
Number of pages13
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • anticipatory responses
  • growth-defence strategy
  • induced defence
  • predictability
  • risk perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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