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 443807
Title The timescale of phenotypic plasticity and its impact on competition in fluctuating environments
Author(s) Stomp, M.; Dijk, M.A. van; Overzee, H.M.J. van; Wortel, M.T.; Sigon, C.A.M.; Egas, M.; Hoogveld, H.; Gons, H.J.; Huisman, J.
Source American Naturalist 172 (2008)5. - ISSN 0003-0147 - p. E169 - E185.
Department(s) Visserij
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2008
Keyword(s) complementary chromatic adaptation - fresh-water picocyanobacteria - phototrophic microorganisms - marine synechococcus - variable environment - selective advantage - inducible defenses - experimental tests - baltic sea - light
Abstract Although phenotypic plasticity can be advantageous in fluctuating environments, it may come too late if the environment changes fast. Complementary chromatic adaptation is a colorful form of phenotypic plasticity, where cyanobacteria tune their pigmentation to the prevailing light spectrum. Here, we study the timescale of chromatic adaptation and its impact on competition among phytoplankton species exposed to fluctuating light colors. We parameterized a resource competition model using monoculture experiments with green and red picocyanobacteria and the cyanobacterium Pseudanabaena, which can change its color within approximately 7 days by chromatic adaptation. The model predictions were tested in competition experiments, where the incident light color switched between red and green at different frequencies (slow, intermediate, and fast). Pseudanabaena (the flexible phenotype) competitively excluded the green and red picocyanobacteria in all competition experiments. Strikingly, the rate of competitive exclusion was much faster when the flexible phenotype had sufficient time to fully adjust its pigmentation. Thus, the flexible phenotype benefited from its phenotypic plasticity if fluctuations in light color were relatively slow, corresponding to slow mixing processes or infrequent storms in their natural habitat. This shows that the timescale of phenotypic plasticity plays a key role during species interactions in fluctuating environments.
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