COURTESY OF DANIEL SCHOLES
EDITOR'S CHOICE IN GENETICS & GENOMICS
D.R. Scholes, K.N. Paige, “Plasticity in ploidy underlies plant fitness compensation to herbivore damage,” Mol Ecol, 23:4862-70, 2014.
You might expect that a plant would respond unfavorably to having its top bitten off by an herbivore. But as ecologist Ken Paige and colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign first observed in the 1980s, some plants respond by making more seeds, ultimately benefiting from injury in a phenomenon called overcompensation. More recently, Paige and postdoc Daniel Scholes suspected a role for endoreduplication, in which a cell makes extra copies of its genome without dividing, multiplying its number of chromosome sets, or “ploidy.”
Undamaged plants tend to increase their ploidy over time, but after experimental...