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Curr Biol. 2011 Sep 27;21(18):R758-66. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.06.034.

Hormone signaling and phenotypic plasticity in nematode development and evolution.

Author information

1
Max-Planck-Institute for Developmental Biology, Department for Evolutionary Biology, Spemannstrasse 37, D-72076 Tübingen, Germany. ralf.sommer@tuebingen.mpg.de

Abstract

Phenotypic plasticity refers to the ability of an organism to adopt different phenotypes depending on environmental conditions. In animals and plants, the progression of juvenile development and the formation of dormant stages are often associated with phenotypic plasticity, indicating the importance of phenotypic plasticity for life-history theory. Phenotypic plasticity has long been emphasized as a crucial principle in ecology and as facilitator of phenotypic evolution. In nematodes, several examples of phenotypic plasticity have been studied at the genetic and developmental level. In addition, the influence of different environmental factors has been investigated under laboratory conditions. These studies have provided detailed insight into the molecular basis of phenotypic plasticity and its ecological and evolutionary implications. Here, we review recent studies on the formation of dauer larvae in Caenorhabditis elegans, the evolution of nematode parasitism and the generation of a novel feeding trait in Pristionchus pacificus. These examples reveal a conserved and co-opted role of an endocrine signaling module involving the steroid hormone dafachronic acid. We will discuss how hormone signaling might facilitate life-history and morphological evolution.

PMID:
21959166
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2011.06.034
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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