5 years ago

The role of phenotypic plasticity on population differentiation

M Schmid, F Guillaume

Several evolutionary processes shape the genetic and phenotypic differentiation of populations. Among them, the joint effects of gene flow, selection and phenotypic plasticity are poorly known, especially when trying to understand how maladaptive plasticity affects population divergence. We extended a quantitative genetic model of Hendry et al. (2001) to describe these joint effects on phenotypic and additive genetic divergence between two populations, and their phenotypic and genetic differentiation (PST and QST). With individual-based simulations, we tested our model predictions and further modeled allelic differentiation at neutral (FST) and adaptive (FSTQ) loci. While adaptive phenotypic plasticity allows for large phenotypic divergence and differentiation despite high gene flow, maladaptive plasticity promotes genetic divergence and generates countergradient variation, under extensive migration with phenotypic differences sometimes opposed to genetic differences. Maladaptive plasticity can also promote adaptive phenotypic divergence by reducing the effective gene flow. Overall, plasticity decouples genetic from phenotypic differences between populations, and blurs the correlation between phenotypic divergence and local adaptation. By deriving models of population differentiation for three different life cycles, we further describe the effect of a species’ ecology on evolution in structured populations.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/hdy.2017.36

DOI: 10.1038/hdy.2017.36

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