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Ann Bot. 2016 Apr;117(5):733-48. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcw016. Epub 2016 Apr 11.

Developmental mechanisms underlying variable, invariant and plastic phenotypes.

Author information

1
The Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Bateman Street, Cambridge CB2 1LR, UK.
2
The Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Bateman Street, Cambridge CB2 1LR, UK ol235@cam.ac.uk.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Discussions of phenotypic robustness often consider scenarios where invariant phenotypes are optimal and assume that developmental mechanisms have evolved to buffer the phenotypes of specific traits against stochastic and environmental perturbations. However, plastic plant phenotypes that vary between environments or variable phenotypes that vary stochastically within an environment may also be advantageous in some scenarios.

SCOPE:

Here the conditions under which invariant, plastic and variable phenotypes of specific traits may confer a selective advantage in plants are examined. Drawing on work from microbes and multicellular organisms, the mechanisms that may give rise to each type of phenotype are discussed.

CONCLUSION:

In contrast to the view of robustness as being the ability of a genotype to produce a single, invariant phenotype, changes in a phenotype in response to the environment, or phenotypic variability within an environment, may also be delivered consistently (i.e. robustly). Thus, for some plant traits, mechanisms have probably evolved to produce plasticity or variability in a reliable manner.

KEYWORDS:

Noise; canalization; instability; plasticity; robustness.; stochasticity; variability

PMID:
27072645
PMCID:
PMC4845803
DOI:
10.1093/aob/mcw016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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