: Rapid environmental change is forcing populations into novel environments where plasticity will no longer maintain fitness. When populations are exposed to novel environments, evolutionary theory predicts that genetic variation in fitness will increase and should be associated with genetic differences in plasticity. If true, then genetic variation in plasticity can increase adaptive potential in novel environments, and population persistence via rapid adaptation is more likely. To test whether genetic variation in fitness increases in novel environments and is associated with plasticity, we transplanted 8,149 clones of 314 genotypes of a Sicilian daisy (Senecio chrysanthemifolius) within and outside its native range, and quantified genetic variation in fitness, and plasticity in leaf traits and gene expression. Although mean fitness declined by 87% in the novel environment, genetic variance in fitness increased threefold and was correlated with plasticity in leaf traits. High fitness genotypes showed greater plasticity in gene expression, but lower plasticity in most leaf traits. Interestingly, genotypes with greater fitness in the novel environment had the lowest fitness at the native site. These results suggest that standing genetic variation in plasticity could help populations to persist and adapt to novel environments, despite remaining hidden in native environments.

Hidden genetic variation in plasticity provides the potential for rapid adaptation to novel environments

Cristaudo, Antonia;
2023-01-01

Abstract

: Rapid environmental change is forcing populations into novel environments where plasticity will no longer maintain fitness. When populations are exposed to novel environments, evolutionary theory predicts that genetic variation in fitness will increase and should be associated with genetic differences in plasticity. If true, then genetic variation in plasticity can increase adaptive potential in novel environments, and population persistence via rapid adaptation is more likely. To test whether genetic variation in fitness increases in novel environments and is associated with plasticity, we transplanted 8,149 clones of 314 genotypes of a Sicilian daisy (Senecio chrysanthemifolius) within and outside its native range, and quantified genetic variation in fitness, and plasticity in leaf traits and gene expression. Although mean fitness declined by 87% in the novel environment, genetic variance in fitness increased threefold and was correlated with plasticity in leaf traits. High fitness genotypes showed greater plasticity in gene expression, but lower plasticity in most leaf traits. Interestingly, genotypes with greater fitness in the novel environment had the lowest fitness at the native site. These results suggest that standing genetic variation in plasticity could help populations to persist and adapt to novel environments, despite remaining hidden in native environments.
2023
adaptive plasticity
additive genetic variance
differential gene expression
environmental change
evolutionary rescue
fitness
novel environments
population persistence
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/547082
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