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Quantitative Trait Loci mapping of phenotypic plasticity and genotype – environment interactions in plant and insect performance

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Catherine Tétard-Jones



Community genetic studies generally ignore the plasticity of the functional traits through which the effect is passed from individuals to the associated community. However, the ability of organisms to be phenotypically plastic allows them to rapidly adapt to changing environments and plasticity is commonly observed across all taxa. Owing to the fitness benefits of phenotypic plasticity, evolutionary biologists are interested in its genetic basis, which could explain how phenotypic plasticity is involved in the evolution of species interactions. Two current ideas exist: (i) phenotypic plasticity is caused by environmentally sensitive loci associated with a phenotype; (ii) phenotypic plasticity is caused by regulatory genes that simply influence the plasticity of a phenotype. Here, we designed a quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping experiment to locate QTL on the barley genome associated with barley performance when the environment varies in the presence of aphids, and the composition of the rhizosphere. We simultaneously mapped aphid performance across variable rhizosphere environments. We mapped main effects, QTL × environment interaction (QTL×E), and phenotypic plasticity (measured as the difference in mean trait values) for barley and aphid performance onto the barley genome using an interval mapping procedure. We found that QTL associated with phenotypic plasticity were co-located with main effect QTL and QTL×E. We also located phenotypic plasticity QTL that were located separately from main effect QTL. These results support both of the current ideas of how phenotypic plasticity is genetically based and provide an initial insight into the functional genetic basis of how phenotypically plastic traits may still be important sources of community genetic effects.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tetard-Jones C, Kertesz MA, Preziosi RF

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Year: 2011

Volume: 366

Issue: 1569

Pages: 1368-1379

Print publication date: 01/05/2011

Date deposited: 08/04/2011

ISSN (print): 0962-8452

ISSN (electronic): 1471-2954

Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing


DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0356


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