SELECTED PUBLICATIONS Volf M., Leong J.V., de Lima Ferreira P., Volfová T., Kozel P., Matos-Maraví P., Hörandl E., Wagner N.D., Luntamo N., Salminen J.-P., Segar S.T., Sedio B.E. (2023) Contrasting levels of β‐diversity and underlying phylogenetic trends indicate different paths to chemical diversity in highland and lowland willow species, Ecology Letters, 26: 1599-1571. DOI: 10.1111/ele.14273 We examined highland and lowland willow species to test for trends in various aspects of their chemical diversity that help them to cope with environmental conditions at different elevations. We show that differences in chemistry among willows growing at different elevations occur mainly through shifts in chemical β-diversity and due to convergence or divergence among species sharing their elevation level. We also detect contrasting phylogenetic trends in concentration and α-diversity of metabolites in highland and lowland willow species. The resulting elevational patterns contribute to the chemical diversity of Salix and suggest that variable selective pressure across ecological gradients may, more generally, underpin complex changes in plant chemistry. Volf M., Volfová T., Hörandl E., Wagner N.D., Luntamo N.,Salminen J.-P., Sedio B. E. (2022) Abiotic stress rather than biotic interactions drives contrasting trends in chemical richness and variation in alpine willows. Functional Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.14169 Plants produce wide arrays of chemical compounds that help them to cope with changes in various types of stress that occur along environmental gradients. Here we used willows growing along an elevational gradient in the Alps to show how chemical differences arise through differential trends in various aspects of chemical diversity among plants exposed to different environmental conditions. Volf M, Volfová T, Seifert CL, Ludwig A, Engelmann RA, Jorge LR, Richter R, Schedl A, Weinhold A, Wirth C, van Dam NM.(2022) A mosaic of induced and non-induced branches promotes variation in leaf traits, predation and insect herbivore assemblages in canopy trees. Ecology Letters. 25: (4), 729-739.https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.13943 3 Forest canopies are complex and highly diverse environments. In this study, we show how branch-localised induction of chemical defences promotes variation in leaf traits and predation, being one of the key factors influencing abundance and diversity of canopy insects in temperate forests.
Volf M, Salminen JP, Segar ST. Evolution of defences in large tropical plant genera: perspectives for exploring insect diversity in a tri-trophic context. Current Opinion in Insect Science. 2019. 32:91-97. We review how plant specialized metabolites govern insect-plant reciprocal interactions and diversification of the two groups. We show that escalation and divergence in chemical defences generate different dimensions of plant chemical diversity and how its effects cascade to higher trophic levels. We propose that the effects of chemical α- and β-diversity on herbivores, predators, and parasitoids, depend on the type of metabolite in play and its potency. This review served as a basis for formulating some of the key hypotheses proposed in this project.
Volf M, Segar ST, Miller SE, Isua B, Sisol M, Aubona G, Šimek P, Moos M, Laitila J, Kim J, Zima Jr J, Rota J, Weiblen GD, Wossa S, Salminen JP, Basset Y, Novotny V. Community structure of insect herbivores is driven by conservatism, escalation and divergence of defensive traits in Ficus. Ecology Letters. 2018. 21:83-92. We demonstrate that herbivores with different levels of specialization respond to plant traits with various evolutionary histories. While generalists are affected by escalating defences, specialists are affected by divergent defences of their hosts. This supports differential evolutionary trends among plant defences and their diversity. We propose that the composition of herbivore communities and the nature of biotic selection agents in play can fundamentally affect the trajectories by which plant chemical diversity evolves.
Volf M, Hrcek J, Julkunen-Tiitto R, Novotny V. To each its own: differential response of specialist and generalist herbivores to plant defence in willows. Journal of Animal Ecology. 2015. 84:1123–1132. Plants are involved in diffuse co-evolution with diverse insects. Here we show that it is essential to take this into account when interpreting the evolution of plant defences. It is not the pressure by individual insect species but by their whole assemblages what drives the evolution of plant chemical defences. We show that assemblages of insects with various life-history traits respond to different plant defences. This differential response of herbivore assemblages to plant defences prevents plants from evolving a single, universally efficient defence. Such trends promote the astonishing diversity of plant chemical defences.