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Biosystems. 2000 Jul;57(2):95-107.

Canalization as a non-genetic source of adaptiveness during morphogenesis: experimental evidence from analysis of reproductive development in Sorghum bicolor.

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Department of Plant Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 91904, Jerusalem, Israel.


In Sorghum bicolor, perturbations in reproductive development observed following salt-treatment also influence progeny grown in the absence of NaCl. However, a developmental reversion of these modifications may be observed throughout two successive generations. This response, termed canalization, does not spontaneously occur following growth in the absence of NaCl, but is triggered by the level of perturbation in parental expression of reproductive characters. Moreover, canalization is not specific to the perturbed character, but it includes modifications in reproductive development as a whole. A decrease in developmental variability coincides with amplitude of the developmental reversion. This phenomenon is interpreted as an evidence for orientation of the developmental process towards the lowest free-energy state of the 'epigenetic landscape'. Involvement of this phenomenon of canalization in developmental stability, adaptiveness, and evolution is discussed. Moreover, these results point to the need for a posteriori methods of investigations in order to analyze self-organized transformations in biological systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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