Meeting Abstract

S8-1.5  Jan. 6  Origin and evolution of novel phenotypes: From environmental induction to genetic inheritance in color displays BADYAEV, Alexander; University of Arizona

The origin of novel phenotypes is one of the most controversial and unresolved questions in biology. Phenotypic accommodation of environmentally-induced developmental plasticity is thought to be an initial step in the evolution of some adaptations, but empirical examples are rare. Diet-dependent carotenoid coloration of many animals provides a unique opportunity to trace the developmental incorporation of novel environmental inputs into the evolution of complex adaptations. I will present a conceptual framework for the evolution of genetic inheritance of environmentally-induced plasticity in coloration and apply this framework to the study of the recent evolution of two color morphs in a newly established bird population. I show that epigenetically regulated feather growth enables incorporation of novel diet-derived pigments, whereas recurrent selection on resulting color phenotypes facilitates genetic assimilation of novel environmental inputs. These results are consistent with the view that phenotypic accommodation can bridge the environmental origin of adaptation and its genetic determination.