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Costs and benefits of transgenerational acquired resistance in Arabidopsis.
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  • Ana Lopez Sanchez,
  • David Pascual Pardo,
  • Leonardo Furci,
  • Michael Roberts,
  • Jurriaan Ton
Ana Lopez Sanchez
University of Sheffield
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David Pascual Pardo
University of Sheffield
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Leonardo Furci
University of Sheffield
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Michael Roberts
Lancaster University
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Jurriaan Ton
University of Sheffield
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Abstract

Recent evidence suggests that stressed plants employ epigenetic mechanisms to prime defences in progeny. Little is known about the evolutionary significance of this transgenerational acquired resistance (TAR). We have used a full factorial design to study the specificity, costs and transgenerational stability of TAR in Arabidopsis thaliana after exposure to increasing stress intensities by a biotrophic pathogen, a necrotrophic pathogen and salt. All stresses incrementally reduced parental growth, whereas salt concurrently affected reproductive fitness. Biotrophic and necrotrophic pathogens, but not salt, increased resistance of progeny against the same stress. This pathogen-elicited TAR was associated with costs from increased susceptibility to other stresses. Furthermore, the stability of pathogen-elicited TAR over one stress-free generation and associated costs were proportional to parental disease severity, suggesting that plants use disease severity as an environmental proxy for TAR investment. We conclude that pathogen-elicited TAR is an adaptive parental effect that is associated with ecological costs.