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Transgenerational plasticity of inducible defences: Combined effects of grand‐parental, parental and current environments

Abstract : Phenotypic plasticity can occur across generations (transgenerational plasticity) when environments experienced by the previous generations influenced offspring phenotype. The evolutionary importance of transgenerational plasticity, especially regarding within-generational plasticity, is a currently hot topic in the plasticity framework. How long an environmental effect can persist across generations and whether multigenerational effects are cumulative are primordial—for the evolution- ary significance of transgenerational plasticity—but still unresolved questions. In this study, we investigated how the grand-parental, parental and offspring exposures to predation cues shape the predator-induced defences of offspring in the Physa acuta snail. We expected that the offspring phenotypes result from a three-way interac- tion among grand-parental, parental and offspring environments. We exposed three generations of snails without and with predator cues according to a full factorial de- sign and measured offspring inducible defences. We found that both grand-parental and parental exposures to predator cues impacted offspring antipredator defences, but their effects were not cumulative and depended on the defences considered. We also highlighted that the grand-parental environment did alter reaction norms of offspring shell thickness, demonstrating an interaction between the grand-parental transgenerational plasticity and the within-generational plasticity. We concluded that the effects of multigenerational exposure to predator cues resulted on complex offspring phenotypic patterns which are difficult to relate to adaptive antipredator advantages.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, March 11, 2020 - 11:17:16 AM
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Juliette Tariel, Sandrine Plénet, Emilien Luquet. Transgenerational plasticity of inducible defences: Combined effects of grand‐parental, parental and current environments. Ecology and Evolution, Wiley Open Access, 2020, 10, pp.2367-2376. ⟨10.1002/ece3.6046⟩. ⟨hal-02505083⟩



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