Linking genes with ecological strategies in Arabidopsis thaliana

J Exp Bot. 2019 Feb 20;70(4):1141-1151. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ery447.


Arabidopsis thaliana is the most prominent model system in plant molecular biology and genetics. Although its ecology was initially neglected, collections of various genotypes revealed a complex population structure, with high levels of genetic diversity and substantial levels of phenotypic variation. This helped identify the genes and gene pathways mediating phenotypic change. Population genetics studies further demonstrated that this variation generally contributes to local adaptation. Here, we review evidence showing that traits affecting plant life history, growth rate, and stress reactions are not only locally adapted, they also often co-vary. Co-variation between these traits indicates that they evolve as trait syndromes, and reveals the ecological diversification that took place within A. thaliana. We argue that examining traits and the gene that control them within the context of global summary schemes that describe major ecological strategies will contribute to resolve important questions in both molecular biology and ecology.

Keywords: Arabidopsis thaliana; CSR strategy; local adaptation; natural variation; trait syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological*
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Genetic Linkage*
  • Life History Traits*