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Perea R, Dirzo R, Bieler S, Wilson Fernandes G  (2021)  Incidence of galls on sympatric California oaks: Ecological and physiological perspectives. Diversity 13(1):20.

Year Published: 2021

Galls are abnormal outgrowths on the external tissues of plants caused by a restricted group of organisms. In this study, we surveyed the incidence and diversity of galling structures in sympatric oak species of a biological preserve (Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, NC, USA). We also measured different physiological parameters (SLA-specific leaf area, chlorophyll, nitrogen, flavonol, anthocyanin, and water content) in galled and ungalled leaves on the same individuals of the most abundant oak species (Quercus agrifolia, Q. lobata, and Q. douglasii). Overall, Q. lobata showed the highest gall incidence, with 64.5% of the sampled leaves affected by galls, followed by Q. douglasii, Q. agrifolia, Q. durata, and Q. kelloggii. The proportion of stems with galls was considerably lower than for leaves in all oak species, ranging from 0% incidence in Q. kelloggii to 27.4% in Q. lobata. The highly schlerophyllous Q. agrifolia supported the most diverse galling community at Jasper Ridge, with ten species, mostly belonging to the Cynipidae family. Our results show that leaf galling had no significant impact on the studied ecophysiological variables. The lack of differences between galled and ungalled leaves under controlled conditions (same tree and position in the tree) suggests that the ecophysiological variables measured are not significantly affected by galling agents or that our data collected for fully-developed galls (end of summer) are not sensitive enough to detect differences. However, there were some trends in plant responses to galling. Changes in galled vs. ungalled leaves were greater in flavonols, followed by chlorophyll, nitrogen, anthocyanin, SLA, and water content, indicating a nutrient deficiency in the plant nutrients. Our findings underscore the complexity of the gall-plant interaction and suggest some promising lines of future research.  [link to publication]

Article Title: 
Incidence of galls on sympatric California oaks: Ecological and physiological perspectives