Evol Ecol Res 8: 415-433 (2006)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Phenotypic integration and response to stress in Arabidopsis thaliana: a path analytical approach

Massimo Pigliucci1* and Ania Kolodynska2

1Department of Ecology and Evolution, State University of New York at Stony Brook, 650 Life Sciences Building, Stony Brook, NY 11794 and  2Department of Botany, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: pigliucci@genotypebyenvironment.org


Questions: Does the pattern of phenotypic integration (correlations among characters) change with the environment? Do correlations become tighter with increased perceived stress? Is path analysis a useful analytical method to study phenotypic integration?

Organism: Several populations of the annual weedy plant Arabidopsis thaliana, a model system in both molecular and organismal biology.

Methods: Plants grown under four experimentally induced conditions, three of which were meant to impose increasing stress by manipulating water and light levels. The experiment was conducted in growth chambers, and the data were subjected to analyses of variance and path analyses.

Results: Plants did experience various amounts of stress, though not always in the predicted rank order. The patterns of phenotypic integration were more stable than expected, despite some environmental sensitivity of several path coefficients.

Conclusion: Path analytical models based on previous experience with the experimental system can be used to explore and quantify patterns of variation in character correlations.

Keywords: Arabidopsis, environmental stress, path analysis, phenotypic integration, phenotypic plasticity.

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