Browsing by Subject "phenotypic plasticity"

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  • Peris Tamayo, Ana-Maria; Devineau, Olivier; Praebel, Kim; Kahilainen, Kimmo K.; ostbye, Kjartan (2020)
    Adaptive radiation is the diversification of species to different ecological niches and has repeatedly occurred in different salmonid fish of postglacial lakes. In Lake Tinnsjoen, one of the largest and deepest lakes in Norway, the salmonid fish, Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus(L.)), has likely radiated within 9,700 years after deglaciation into ecologically and genetically segregated Piscivore, Planktivore, Dwarf, and Abyssal morphs in the pelagial, littoral, shallow-moderate profundal, and deep-profundal habitats. We compared trait variation in the size of the head, the eye and olfactory organs, as well as the volumes of five brain regions of these four Arctic charr morphs. We hypothesised that specific habitat characteristics have promoted divergent body, head, and brain sizes related to utilized depth differing in environmental constraints (e.g., light, oxygen, pressure, temperature, and food quality). The most important ecomorphological variables differentiating morphs were eye area, habitat, and number of lamellae. The Abyssal morph living in the deepest areas of the lake had the smallest brain region volumes, head, and eye size. Comparing the olfactory bulb with the optic tectum in size, it was larger in the Abyssal morph than in the Piscivore morph. The Piscivore and Planktivore morphs that use more illuminated habitats have the largest optic tectum volume, followed by the Dwarf. The observed differences in body size and sensory capacities in terms of vision and olfaction in shallow and deepwater morphs likely relates to foraging and mating habitats in Lake Tinnsjoen. Further seasonal and experimental studies of brain volume in polymorphic species are needed to test the role of plasticity and adaptive evolution behind the observed differences.
  • Morandin, Claire; Brendel, Volker P.; Sundstrom, Liselotte; Helantera, Heikki; Mikheyev, Alexander S. (2019)
    Social insects provide systems for studying epigenetic regulation of phenotypes, particularly with respect to differentiation of reproductive and worker castes, which typically arise from a common genetic background. The role of gene expression in caste specialization has been extensively studied, but the role of DNA methylation remains controversial. Here, we perform well replicated, integrated analyses of DNA methylation and gene expression in brains of an ant (Formica exsecta) with distinct female castes using traditional approaches (tests of differential methylation) combined with a novel approach (analysis of co-expression and co-methylation networks). We found differences in expression and methylation profiles between workers and queens at different life stages, as well as some overlap between DNA methylation and expression at the functional level. Large portions of the transcriptome and methylome are organized into "modules" of genes, some significantly associated with phenotypic traits of castes and developmental stages. Several gene co-expression modules are preserved in co-methylation networks, consistent with possible regulation of caste-specific gene expression by DNA methylation. Surprisingly, brain co-expression modules were highly preserved when compared with a previous study that examined whole-body co-expression patterns in 16 ant species, suggesting that these modules are evolutionarily conserved and for specific functions in various tissues. Altogether, these results suggest that DNA methylation participates in regulation of caste specialization and age-related physiological changes in social insects.
  • Smith, Chris R; Morandin, Claire Marthe; Noureddine, M; Pant, S (2018)
    Much of the variation among insects is derived from the different ways that chitin has been moulded to form rigid structures, both internal and external. In this study, we identify a highly conserved expression pattern in an insect-only gene family, the Osiris genes, that is essential for development, but also plays a significant role in phenotypic plasticity and in immunity/toxicity responses. The majority of Osiris genes exist in a highly syntenic cluster, and the cluster itself appears to have arisen very early in the evolution of insects. We used developmental gene expression in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, the bumble bee, Bombus terrestris, the harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex barbatus, and the wood ant, Formica exsecta, to compare patterns of Osiris gene expression both during development and between alternate caste phenotypes in the polymorphic social insects. Developmental gene expression of Osiris genes is highly conserved across species and correlated with gene location and evolutionary history. The social insect castes are highly divergent in pupal Osiris gene expression. Sets of co-expressed genes that include Osiris genes are enriched in gene ontology terms related to chitin/cuticle and peptidase activity. Osiris genes are essential for cuticle formation in both embryos and pupae, and genes co-expressed with Osiris genes affect wing development. Additionally, Osiris genes and those co-expressed seem to play a conserved role in insect toxicology defences and digestion. Given their role in development, plasticity, and protection, we propose that the Osiris genes play a central role in insect adaptive evolution.
  • Garzon, Marta Benito; Robson, T. Matthew; Hampe, Arndt (2019)
    Improving our understanding of species ranges under rapid climate change requires application of our knowledge of the tolerance and adaptive capacity of populations to changing environmental conditions. Here, we describe an emerging modelling approach, Delta TraitSDM, which attempts to achieve this by explaining species distribution ranges based on phenotypic plasticity and local adaptation of fitness-related traits measured across large geographical gradients. The collection of intraspecific trait data measured in common gardens spanning broad environmental clines has promoted the development of these new models - first in trees but now rapidly expanding to other organisms. We review, explain and harmonize the main findings from this new generation of models that, by including trait variation over geographical scales, are able to provide new insights into future species ranges. Overall, Delta TraitSDM predictions generally deliver a less alarming message than previous models of species distribution under new climates, indicating that phenotypic plasticity should help, to a considerable degree, some plant populations to persist under climate change. The development of Delta TraitSDMs offers a new perspective to analyse intraspecific variation in single and multiple traits, with the rationale that trait (co)variation and consequently fitness can significantly change across geographical gradients and new climates.
  • Toli, Elisavet A.; Noreikiene, Kristina; De Faveri, Jacquelin; Merila, Juha (2017)
    Evidence for phenotypic plasticity in brain size and the size of different brain parts is widespread, but experimental investigations into this effect remain scarce and are usually conducted using individuals from a single population. As the costs and benefits of plasticity may differ among populations, the extent of brain plasticity may also differ from one population to another. In a common garden experiment conducted with three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) originating from four different populations, we investigated whether environmental enrichment (aquaria provided with structural complexity) caused an increase in the brain size or size of different brain parts compared to controls (bare aquaria). We found no evidence for a positive effect of environmental enrichment on brain size or size of different brain parts in either of the sexes in any of the populations. However, in all populations, males had larger brains than females, and the degree of sexual size dimorphism (SSD) in relative brain size ranged from 5.1 to 11.6% across the populations. Evidence was also found for genetically based differences in relative brain size among populations, as well as for plasticity in the size of different brain parts, as evidenced by consistent size differences among replicate blocks that differed in their temperature.
  • Tibblin, Petter; Hall, Marcus; Svensson, P. Andreas; Merila, Juha; Forsman, Anders (2020)
    Phenotypic flexibility may incur a selective advantage in changing and heterogeneous environments, and is increasingly recognized as an integral aspect of organismal adaptation. Despite the widespread occurrence and potential importance of rapid and reversible background-mediated color change for predator avoidance, knowledge gaps remain regarding its adaptive value, repeatability within individuals, phenotypic correlates, and whether its expression is context dependent. We used manipulative experiments to investigate these issues in two fish species, the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and nine-spined stickleback (Pungitius pungitius). We sequentially exposed individuals to dark and light visual background treatments, quantified color change from video recordings, and examined associations of color change with phenotypic dimensions that can influence the outcome of predator-prey interactions. G. aculeatus expressed a greater degree of color change compared to P. pungitius. In G. aculeatus, the color change response was repeatable within individuals. Moreover, the color change response was independent of body size but affected by sex and boldness, with males and bolder individuals changing less. Infection by the parasite Schistocephalus solidus did not affect the degree of color change, but it did modulate its association with sex and boldness. G. aculeatus adjusted the expression of color change in response to predation risk, with enhanced color change expression in individuals exposed to either simulated attacks, or olfactory cues from a natural predator. These results provide novel evidence on repeatability, correlated traits, and context dependence in the color change response and highlight how a suite of factors can contribute to individual variation in phenotypic flexibility.
  • de Meo, Ilaria; Ostbye, Kjartan; Kahilainen, Kimmo K.; Hayden, Brian; Fagertun, Christian H. H.; Poleo, Antonio B. S. (2021)
    Phenotypic plasticity can be expressed as changes in body shape in response to environmental variability. Crucian carp (Carassius carassius), a widespread cyprinid, displays remarkable plasticity in body morphology and increases body depth when exposed to cues from predators, suggesting the triggering of an antipredator defense mechanism. However, these morphological changes could also be related to resource use and foraging behavior, as an indirect effect of predator presence. In order to determine whether phenotypic plasticity in crucian carp is driven by a direct or indirect response to predation threat, we compared twelve fish communities inhabiting small lakes in southeast Norway grouped by four categories of predation regimes: no predator fish, or brown trout (Salmo trutta), perch (Perca fluviatilis), or pike (Esox lucius) as main piscivores. We predicted the body shape of crucian carp to be associated with the species composition of predator communities and that the presence of efficient piscivores would result in a deeper body shape. We use stable isotope analyses to test whether this variation in body shape was related to a shift in individual resource use-that is, littoral rather than pelagic resource use would favor the development of a specific body shape-or other environmental characteristics. The results showed that increasingly efficient predator communities induced progressively deeper body shape, larger body size, and lower population densities. Predator maximum gape size and individual trophic position were the best variables explaining crucian carp variation in body depth among predation categories, while littoral resource use did not have a clear effect. The gradient in predation pressure also corresponded to a shift in lake productivity. These results indicate that crucian carp have a fine-tuned morphological defense mechanism against predation risk, triggered by the combined effect of predator presence and resource availability.
  • Brommer, Jon E.; Kontiainen, Pekka; Pietiäinen, Hannu (2012)
  • Ramirez-Valiente, Jose Alberto; Sole-Medina, Aida; Pyhäjärvi, Tanja; Cervantes, Sandra; Kesalahti, Robert; Kujala, Sonja T.; Kumpula, Timo; Heer, Katrin; Opgenoorth, Lars; Siebertz, Jan; Danusevicius, Darius; Notivol, Eduardo; Benavides, Raquel; Robledo-Arnuncio, Juan Jose (2021)
    Understanding the dynamics of selection is key to predicting the response of tree species to new environmental conditions in the current context of climate change. However, selection patterns acting on early recruitment stages and their climatic drivers remain largely unknown in most tree species, despite being a critical period of their life cycle. We measured phenotypic selection on Pinus sylvestris seed mass, emergence time and early growth rate over 2 yr in four common garden experiments established along the latitudinal gradient of the species in Europe. Significant phenotypic plasticity and among-population genetic variation were found for all measured phenotypic traits. Heat and drought negatively affected fitness in the southern sites, but heavy rainfalls also decreased early survival in middle latitudes. Climate-driven directional selection was found for higher seed mass and earlier emergence time, while the form of selection on seedling growth rates differed among sites and populations. Evidence of adaptive and maladaptive phenotypic plasticity was found for emergence time and early growth rate, respectively. Seed mass, emergence time and early growth rate have an adaptive role in the early stages of P. sylvestris and climate strongly influences the patterns of selection on these fitness-related traits.
  • Burg, Skylar (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    In this study, a greenhouse experiment was used to assess if temperature sensitivity, specifically, thermoregulatory plasticity, has a functional role in floral reflectance and pigmentation in a population of P. lanceolata grown in three different temperature treatments, reflecting past, present, and future summer temperatures. Spectrophotometry, surface temperature readings, and near-infrared (NIR) region image analysis were used to identify how the spectral absorbance properties and biochemical makeup of P. lanceolata flowers differed between treatments. Reflectance and phenolic absorbance were both found to be influenced by ambient temperature. However, surface temperature of flower spikes was not affected by growing temperature, reflectance, or phenolic absorbance. The results suggest that Plantago lanceolata may utilize thermoregulatory plasticity in reflectance and phenolic absorbance to adjust to rising temperatures. These findings have important implications in species reactions to climate change and denotes that increased selection on thermal function traits may occur under a future climate scenario of continued warming in temperate and boreal biomes.