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Environmental stress correlates with increases in both genetic and residual variances: A meta-analysis of animal studies
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7247-3742
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Number of Authors: 22017 (English)In: Evolution, ISSN 0014-3820, E-ISSN 1558-5646, Vol. 71, no 5, p. 1339-1351Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Adaptive evolutionary responses are determined by the strength of selection and amount of genetic variation within traits, however, both are known to vary across environmental conditions. As selection is generally expected to be strongest under stressful conditions, understanding how the expression of genetic variation changes across stressful and benign environmental conditions is crucial for predicting the rate of adaptive change. Although theory generally predicts increased genetic variation under stress, previous syntheses of the field have found limited support for this notion. These studies have focused on heritability, which is dependent on other environmentally sensitive, but nongenetic, sources of variation. Here, we aim to complement these studies with a meta-analysis in which we examine changes in coefficient of variation (CV) in maternal, genetic, and residual variances across stressful and benign conditions. Confirming previous analyses, we did not find any clear direction in how heritability changes across stressful and benign conditions. However, when analyzing CV, we found higher genetic and residual variance under highly stressful conditions in life-history traits but not in morphological traits. Our findings are of broad significance to contemporary evolution suggesting that rapid evolutionary adaptive response may be mediated by increased evolutionary potential in stressed populations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 71, no 5, p. 1339-1351
Keywords [en]
Adaptation, genetic variation, heritability, life-history evolution, maternal effects, quantitative genetics
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-144706DOI: 10.1111/evo.13201ISI: 000401256200017PubMedID: 28186615OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-144706DiVA, id: diva2:1128032
Available from: 2017-07-21 Created: 2017-07-21 Last updated: 2019-12-17Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Evolutionary consequences of maternal effects and stress
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Evolutionary consequences of maternal effects and stress
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Maternal effects occur when maternal environment or phenotype influence offspring phenotype, in addition to genetic contribution of the mother. As maternal effects often influence phenotypes that are under natural selection, they hence have evolutionary consequences. Further, the expression of both maternal effects and evolutionary potential has been argued to depend on environmental conditions, but the evidence of this dependency for the process of adaptation has been inconclusive. The main objective of this thesis was to investigate evolutionary consequences of maternal effects and stressful or variable environmental conditions.

I started by performing a meta-analysis of quantitative genetic studies that investigated expression of additive genetic, maternal, and residual variance under both stressful and benign environmental conditions (Paper I). Data spanning over many animal taxa and stress types revealed that high levels of environmental stress correlated with increased expression of genetic and residual variances. However, against our predictions, maternal effects were relatively unaffected by stress.

In Paper II and III, I explored the evolutionary divergences of traits previously shown to be under maternal control. Specifically, in Paper II, I performed a second meta-analysis, that investigated if parents of common frogs (Rana temporaria) influenced offspring development time to mediate the effects of time constraints, across a latitudinal cline. I found that reproductive delay in the parental generation correlated with decreased development time in tadpoles of northern R. temporaria populations, suggesting that parental effects may further decrease development time in populations from time-constrained environments.

In Paper III, I used an annual killifish system, to explore if environmental unpredictability, measured by variation in precipitation during rainy season, correlated with maternally mediated variation in embryo development time (bet-hedging). Although I found significant among-species differences in variation in development time, there was no clear linear relationship between variation in development time and precipitation. The results suggest that either bet-hedging is not important for persistence in the unpredictable annual killifish habitats, or that other ecological factors, rather than precipitation unpredictability, influenced evolution of variation in development times.

Lastly, I investigated if occurrence of placenta correlated with increased offspring brain size among poeciliid fish (Paper IV). In contrast to our prediction, I did not find any consistent differences in relative brain size between the fry of placental and non-placental species. It is possible that either the poeciliid placental structures do not have a sufficient capacity to transfer resources necessary for increased brain development, or that other factors, such as sexual selection, or differences in food abundance and competition, shaped brain evolution among poeciliids.

In conclusion, the results of this thesis suggest that environmental stress may influence evolutionary potential by increasing genetic variation available for selection, that time-constrained habitats may be conducive to evolution of parental effects on offspring development times, and that maternal influence on offspring traits may be difficult to detect, as many ecological factors may potentially influence evolution of life-history and morphology traits.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2019. p. 19
Keywords
parental effects, meta-analysis, development time, bet-hedging, brain size, evolutionary potential, unpredictable environments
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-175589 (URN)978-91-7797-907-4 (ISBN)978-91-7797-908-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-12-20, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen) NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2013-05064
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2019-11-27 Created: 2019-11-05 Last updated: 2019-11-15Bibliographically approved

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