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Data from: Heritable variation in root secondary metabolites is associated with recent climate


Bont, Zoe et al. (2020), Data from: Heritable variation in root secondary metabolites is associated with recent climate, Dryad, Dataset,


1. Plants can adapt to changing environments by adjusting the production and maintenance of diverse sets of bioactive secondary metabolites. To date, the impact of climatic conditions relative to other factors such as soil abiotic factors and herbivore pressure on the evolution of plant secondary metabolites is poorly understood, especially for plant roots.

2. We explored associations between root latex secondary metabolites in 63 Taraxacum officinale populations across Switzerland and climatic conditions, soil abiotic parameters, root herbivore pressure and cytotype distribution. To assess the contribution of environmental effects, root secondary metabolites were measured in F0 plants in nature and F2 plants under controlled greenhouse conditions.

3. Concentrations of root latex secondary metabolites were most strongly associated with climatic conditions, while current soil abiotic factors or root herbivore pressure did not show a clear association with root latex chemistry. Results were similar for natural and controlled conditions, suggesting heritable variation rather than environmental plasticity as underlying factor.

4. Synthesis. We conclude that climatic conditions likely play a major role in the evolution of root secondary metabolites. These results may hint at a novel role of root latex metabolites in tolerance of abiotic stress.

Usage Notes

Raw data: Description and environmental parameters of 63 natural populations of dandelion; chemical analyses of plants growing in natural habitat (F0) and plants growing in greenhouse (F2); maximal leaf length of F2 plants as proxy for leaf and root biomass.