Recent work has demonstrated that communication between plants in natural settings can increase resistance against herbivores. However, this phenomenon has been found convincingly for only two species, alder (Alnus glutinosa) and sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), and recent reviews have questioned the commonness of this phenomenon. Results from experiments involving sagebrush suggest that vascular signaling among branches within an individual is limited and that sagebrush may use external volatile cues instead. Communication among individuals may be a byproduct of volatile communication among branches of a single individual. We tested this hypothesis by examining systemic induced resistance and communication between individuals for two naturally occurring species of Artemisia. Artemisia cana exhibited systemic induced resistance without volatile cues. Assay branches on plants with experimentally clipped treatment branches experienced less herbivory than assay branches on unclipped controls even when air contact was blocked. We found no evidence of airborne communication between A. cana individuals that affected herbivory. Branches of A. douglasiana appeared to exhibit systemic induced resistance to experimental clipping. In addition, assay branches on plants with experimentally clipped neighbors received 45% less chewing damage than assay branches with unclipped neighbors. Although stems may have been connected by rhizomes, communication between stems required air contact. In summary, for one of two Artemisia species considered, we found evidence for volatile communication between stems that affected their tissue losses to herbivores. These results suggest that volatile communication among stems or individuals may not be an unusual phenomenon, at least within the genus Artemisia.
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Vol. 159 • No. 2