Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 538546
Title Strong phenotypic plasticity limits potential for evolutionary responses to climate change
Author(s) Oostra, Vicencio; Saastamoinen, Marjo; Zwaan, Bas J.; Wheat, Christopher W.
Source Nature Communications 9 (2018). - ISSN 2041-1723
Department(s) Laboratory of Genetics
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2018

Phenotypic plasticity, the expression of multiple phenotypes from one genome, is a widespread adaptation to short-term environmental fluctuations, but whether it facilitates evolutionary adaptation to climate change remains contentious. Here, we investigate seasonal plasticity and adaptive potential in an Afrotropical butterfly expressing distinct phenotypes in dry and wet seasons. We assess the transcriptional architecture of plasticity in a full-factorial analysis of heritable and environmental effects across 72 individuals, and reveal pervasive gene expression differences between the seasonal phenotypes. Strikingly, intra-population genetic variation for plasticity is largely absent, consistent with specialisation to a particular environmental cue reliably predicting seasonal transitions. Under climate change, deteriorating accuracy of predictive cues will likely aggravate maladaptive phenotype-environment mismatches and increase selective pressures on reaction norms. However, the observed paucity of genetic variation for plasticity limits evolutionary responses, potentially weakening prospects for population persistence. Thus, seasonally plastic species may be especially vulnerable to climate change.

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