Natural selection contributes to geographic patterns of thermal plasticity in Plantago lanceolate

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Elizabeth P. Lacey, Professor (Creator)
David L. Remington, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: 2018-2019 UNCG University Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund Grant Winner.

A long-standing debate in evolutionary biology concerns the relative importance of different evolutionary forces in explaining phenotypic diversification at large geographic scales. For example, natural selection is typically assumed to underlie divergence along environmental gradients. However, neutral evolutionary processes can produce similar patterns. We collected molecular genetic data from 14 European populations of Plantago lanceolata to test the contributions of natural selection versus neutral evolution to population divergence in temperature-sensitive phenotypic plasticity of floral reflectance. In P. lanceolata, reflectance plasticity is positively correlated with latitude/altitude. We used population pairwise comparisons between neutral genetic differentiation (FST and Jost's D) and phenotypic differentiation (PST) to assess the contributions of geographic distance and environmental parameters of the reproductive season in driving population divergence. Data are consistent with selection having shaped large-scale geographic patterns in thermal plasticity. The aggregate pattern of PST versus FST was consistent with divergent selection. FST explained thermal plasticity differences only when geographic distance was not included in the model. Differences in the extent of cool reproductive season temperatures, and not overall temperature variation, explained plasticity differences independent of distance. Results are consistent with the hypothesis that thermal plasticity is adaptive where growing seasons are shorter and cooler, that is, at high latitude/altitude.

Additional Information

Ecology and Evolution 9(5):2945-2963. doi:10.1002/ece3.4977.
Language: English
Date: 2019
genetic drift, geographic clines, natural selection, phenotypic plasticity, temperature, thermal plasticity

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