Evol Ecol Res 15: 733-746 (2013)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Causes of variation in genotype × environment interaction

Rafael L. Rodríguez

Behavioral and Molecular Ecology Group, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Correspondence: R.L. Rodríguez, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Lapham Hall, 3209 N. Maryland Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53201. USA.
e-mail: rafa@uwm.edu


Questions: What sustains genetic variation in plasticity (genotype × environment interaction, G × E) under selection across environments? What explains variation among traits and species in the expression of G × E?

Hypotheses and methods: I review two hypotheses that seek to explain variation in the expression of G × E. The grain-size hypothesis attempts to elucidate when selection can erode G × E, as it shapes patterns of phenotypic plasticity across environments. The developmental architecture hypothesis identifies developmental features that make traits vary in the propensity to express G × E. I also review studies that have addressed patterns of geographic variation in G × E, and discuss metrics of the strength of G × E that will facilitate future comparisons across traits and taxa.

Conclusions: There is tentative support for both the grain-size and the developmental architecture hypotheses, but further work is required to explain the maintenance of G × E and variation in its expression. I describe scenarios in which, on the one hand, G × E may promote the maintenance of genetic variation and hinder sexual selection, versus on the other, promote evolutionary divergence under natural and sexual selection.

Keywords: genotype × environment interaction, maintenance of variation.

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