Trans-generational plasticity in response to immune challenge is constrained by heat stress

Roth, Olivia and Landis, Susanne H. (2017) Trans-generational plasticity in response to immune challenge is constrained by heat stress Evolutionary Applications, 10 (5). pp. 514-528. DOI 10.1111/eva.12473.

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Trans-generational plasticity is the adjustment of phenotypes to changing habitat conditions that persist longer than the individual lifetime. Fitness benefits (adaptive TGP) are expected upon matching parent-offspring environments. In a global change scenario, several performance-related environmental factors are changing simultaneously. This lowers the predictability of offspring environmental conditions, potentially hampering the benefits of trans-generational plasticity. For the first time, we here explore how the combination of an abiotic and a biotic environmental factor in the parental generation plays out as trans-generational effect in the offspring.

We fully reciprocally exposed the parental generation of the pipefish Syngnathus typhle to an immune challenge and elevated temperatures simulating a naturally occurring heatwave. Upon mating and male pregnancy, offspring were kept in ambient or elevated temperature regimes combined with a heat-killed bacterial epitope treatment. Differential gene expression (immune genes and DNA- and histone-modification genes) suggests that the combined change of an abiotic and a biotic factor in the parental generation had interactive effects on offspring performance, the temperature effect dominated over the immune challenge impact. The benefits of certain parental environmental conditions on offspring performance did not sum up when abiotic and biotic factors were changed simultaneously supporting that available resources that can be allocated to phenotypic trans-generational effects are limited. Temperature is the master regulator of trans-generational phenotypic plasticity, which potentially implies a conflict in the allocation of resources towards several environmental factors. This asks for a reassessment of trans-generational plasticity as a short-term option to buffer environmental variation in the light of climate change.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: parental effects; global change; immune defence; pipefish; environment; gene expression; epigenetics; parasites
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EV Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Fishes
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1111/eva.12473
ISSN: 1752-4571
Projects: SPP 1399
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2017 11:33
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2017 07:54

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