Leaf trichomes can protect plants against herbivory and drought, but can be costly to produce. Theory suggests that selection for reduced costs of resistance may result in the evolution of inducible defences. We quantified variation in tolerance to drought and defoliation, and tested the hypotheses that (a) tolerance is associated with cost, (b) leaf trichome production increases tolerance to drought, and (c) trichome production is increased in response to defoliation and drought stress in Arabidopsis lyrata (Brassicaceae). Eight maternal half-sib families were exposed to two watering regimes and four defoliation treatments in a factorial design. Tolerance to drought varied among families and was inversely related to leaf size, but was not related to trichome density. Family mean performance in the low-watering treatment tended to correlate negatively with that in the control treatment. Trichome production was not induced by defoliation or drought stress. The results suggest that there is genetic variation in tolerance to drought in the study population, that tolerance to drought is associated with a cost, and that trichome production does not increase tolerance to drought in A. lyrata.
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Vol. 47 • No. 3