PerspectiveEcology

How Insect Herbivores Drive the Evolution of Plants

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Science  05 Oct 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6103, pp. 50-51
DOI: 10.1126/science.1228893

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Summary

The most common biological interaction among species on Earth is that between plants and the insects that feed on them (1). Insect herbivores are thought to impose natural selection, which favors resistant plant genotypes and drives the evolutionary diversification of plant species. Two reports in this issue—by Züst et al. on page 116 (2) and Agrawal et al. on page 113 (3)—independently provide strong empirical evidence for the rapid evolution of plant traits that confer resistance to herbivores when herbivores are present but for the evolution of traits that confer increased competitive ability when herbivores are absent.