Abstracts (first author)
Phenotypic and genetic responses of life-history traits to predictable and unpredictable developmental conditions in a seasonal butterfly
Environmental conditions experienced during development are known to influence the phenotype but also the different components of heritability, including genetic variance (VG). Here, phenotypic as well as genetic responses of life-history traits to two different developmental conditions, temperature and food limitation were assessed. The former represents an environment that defines seasonal polyphenism in our study organism, the tropical butterfly Bicyclus anynana, whereas the latter represents a more unpredictable environment. While development time, pupal mass, and resting metabolic rate showed no genotype-by-environment interaction for genetic variation, for thorax ratio and fat percentage the VG increased under the cool temperature, dry season environment. Additionally, for fat percentage, VG increased under food limitation. Hence, the traits most intimately related to the polyphenism in B. anynana show the most environmental specific genetic variance as well as some indication of cross-environmental genetic correlations. I will relate these results and the observed phenotypic responses to temperature (season) and food limitation to our recent RNA-Seq analyses on 72 individuals from the same families. We find substantial genetic variation for gene expression variation, affecting 1225 genes significantly (FDR<5%), while seasonal and food conditions affected much fewer genes. Interestingly, we also identified a number of genes whose expression was affected by the interaction between developmental conditions and genetic background, indicating genetic variation for environmental responses.