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Heredity (Edinb). 2007 Jan;98(1):28-37. Epub 2006 Sep 6.

Mapping phenotypic plasticity and genotype-environment interactions affecting life-history traits in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Laboratory of Nematology, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Phenotypic plasticity and genotype-environment interactions (GEI) play an important role in the evolution of life histories. Knowledge of the molecular genetic basis of plasticity and GEI provides insight into the underlying mechanisms of life-history changes in different environments. We used a genomewide single-nucleotide polymorphism map in a recombinant N2 x CB4856 inbred panel of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to study the genetic control of phenotypic plasticity to temperature in four fitness-related traits, that is, age at maturity, fertility, egg size and growth rate. We mapped quantitative trait loci (QTL) for the respective traits at 12 and 24 degrees C, as well as their plasticities. We found genetic variation and GEI for age at maturity, fertility, egg size and growth rate. GEI in fertility and egg size was attributed to changes in rank order of reaction norms. In case of age at maturity and growth rate, GEI was caused mainly by differences in the among-line variance. In total, 11 QTLs were detected, five QTL at 12 degrees C and six QTL at 24 degrees C, which were associated with life-history traits. Five QTL associated with age at maturity, fertility and growth rate showed QTL x environment interaction. These colocalized with plasticity QTL for the respective traits suggesting allelic sensitivity to temperature. Further fine mapping, complementation analyses and gene silencing are planned to identify candidate genes underlying phenotypic plasticity for age at maturity, fertility and growth.

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