The impact of plasticity and maternal effect on the evolution of leaf resin production in Diplacus aurantiacus

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SummaryOur previous quantitative genetic study of leaf resin production in Diplacus aurantiacus revealed large environmental and maternal effects on variation in resin production, which suggests the possibility of a genotype × environment interaction for this trait when plants grow in heterogeneous environments. Our objectives in this study were to observe the genetic variation in plasticity of resin production under field and chamber conditions, compare phenotypic correlations of resin content with growth traits under these two environmental conditions, and distinguish the possible basis of the maternal effect on resin production using parents and half-sib progeny. A significant genotype × environment interaction (P < 0.0001) in leaf resin production was found, which suggests a potential for the evolution of plasticity of these secondary metabolites under heterogeneous environments. The phenotypic correlation between resin content and growth rate also exhibited plasticity. In addition, the resin content of dam half-sib families grown in the chamber had a closer relationship with their maternal parents in the field (r=0.65, P=0.059) than in the chamber (r=0.39, P=0.34), suggesting an environmentally based maternal effect on the secondary chemicals. We suggest that the maternal environmental effect may act as a contributor to plasticity of resin production and, while it may not diminish the appearance of the genotype × environment interaction, the heritable variation of plasticity of resin production may be confounded.

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