Pleiotropic effects of environment-specific adaptation in Arabidopsis thaliana

New Phytol. 2009 Aug;183(3):816-825. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2009.02943.x. Epub 2009 Jul 8.


Local adaptation may be important for the preservation of genetic diversity and the promotion of speciation. However, local adaptation may also constrain establishment in different environments. The consequences of local adaptation depend strongly on the pleiotropic effects of the genes involved in adaptation. Here, we investigated the pleiotropic effects of the genetic response to selection in outbred lines of Arabidopsis artificially selected to flower earlier under both winter- and spring-annual simulated conditions. The consequences of adaptation were evaluated by reciprocally transplanting selected and control lines between the two conditions. Selected lines always flower earlier than their controls, independent of growing conditions. However, selected lines, growing in the same condition in which they were selected, flower earlier than plants selected in the alternative environment. Plants selected to flower earlier in spring produce more fruits than controls when growing in the spring, and less fruits when growing in the winter; indicating that local adaptation has negative pleiotropic effects in another environment. Our results indicate that local adaptation can arise even when selection targets the same trait in the same direction. Furthermore, it suggests that adaptation under the two different environments can generate fitness trade-offs that can maintain genetic variation for flowering time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Environment*
  • Flowers / physiology
  • Fruit / growth & development
  • Regression Analysis
  • Seasons
  • Time Factors