Article: article from journal or magazin.
Does the generalist parasitic plant Cuscuta campestris selectively forage in heterogeneous plant communities?
802PL NEW PHYTOL
Cuscuta spp. are holoparasitic plants that can simultaneously parasitise several host plants. It has been suggested that Cuscuta has evolved a foraging strategy based on a positive relationship between preuptake investment and subsequent reward on different host species. Here we establish reliable parasite size measures and show that parasitism on individuals of different host species alters the biomass of C. campestris but that within host species size and age also contributes to the heterogeneous resource landscape. We then performed two additional experiments to test whether C. campestris achieves greater resource acquisition by parasitising two host species rather than one and whether C. campestris forages in communities of hosts offering different rewards (a choice experiment). There was no evidence in either experiment for direct benefits of a mixed host diet. Cuscuta campestris foraged by parasitising the most rewarding hosts the fastest and then investing the most on them. We conclude that our data present strong evidence for foraging in the parasitic plant C. campestris.
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