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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Climate and host genotype jointly shape tree phenology, disease levels and insect attacks

Faticov, Maria; Ekholm, Adam; Roslin, Tomas; Tack, Ayco J. M.


One of the best known ecological consequences of climate change is the advancement of spring phenology. Yet, we lack insights into how changes in climate interact with intraspecific genetic variation in shaping spring and autumn phenology, and how such changes in phenology will translate into seasonal dynamics of tree-associated organisms. To elucidate the impact of warming and tree genotype on spring and autumn phenology, as well as the consequences for the population dynamics of a fungal pathogen Erysiphe alphitoides and plant-feeding insect Tuberculatus annulatus, we conducted an active field heating experiment using grafts of five oak genotypes Quercus robur. We found that experimental warming generally advanced oak bud burst in spring and delayed leaf senescence in autumn, while additional variation was explained by tree genotype and warming-by-genotype interactions. Warming or tree genotype did not affect disease levels at the beginning of the season, but shaped both disease levels and aphid density during the latter part of the season. Overall, our findings demonstrate that elevated temperature and genetic variation affect spring and autumn phenology, as well as the seasonal dynamics of higher trophic levels. Such effects may be either direct (i.e. temperature affecting tree phenology and attack independently) or indirect (as due to climate-induced changes in plant traits or the synchrony between trees and their attackers). To achieve a predictive understanding of the ecological responses and potential evolutionary changes of natural food webs in response to climate warming, we should merge the frameworks of global warming and community genetics.


aphid-climate interactions; disease; experimental heating; herbivore; host genotype; pathogen-climate interactions; phenology; plant-climate interactions; powdery mildew; Quercus robur

Published in

2020, Volume: 129, number: 3, pages: 391-401
Publisher: WILEY

      SLU Authors

    • Sustainable Development Goals

      Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Climate Research

      Publication identifier


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