Environmental and Evolutionary Drivers of the Modular Gene Regulatory Network Underlying Phenotypic Plasticity for Stress Resistance in the Nematode Caenorhabditis remanei.

G3 : Genes - Genomes - Genetics
Kristin L SikkinkPatrick C Phillips


Organisms can cope with stressful environments via a combination of phenotypic plasticity at the individual level and adaptation at the population level. Changes in gene expression can play an important role in both. Significant advances in our understanding of gene regulatory plasticity and evolution have come from comparative studies in the field and laboratory. Experimental evolution provides another powerful path by which to learn about how differential regulation of genes and pathways contributes to both acclimation and adaptation. Here we present results from one such study using the nematode Caenorhabditis remanei We selected one set of lines to withstand heat stress and another oxidative stress. We then compared transcriptional responses to acute heat stress of both and an unselected control to the ancestral population using a weighted gene coexpression network analysis, finding that the transcriptional response is primarily dominated by a plastic response that is shared in the ancestor and all evolved populations. In addition, we identified several modules that respond to artificial selection by (1) changing the baseline level of expression, (2) altering the magnitude of the plastic response, or (3) a combination of th...Continue Reading


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