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JOURNAL ARTICLE

The phenotypic effects of spontaneous mutations in different environments

Leigh C Latta, Mica Peacock, David J Civitello, Jeffry L Dudycha, Jesse M Meik, Sarah Schaack
American Naturalist 2015, 185 (2): 243-52
25616142
Understanding the context dependence of mutation represents the current frontier of mutation research. In particular, understanding how traits vary in their abilities to accrue mutational variation and how the environment influences expression of mutant phenotypes yields insight into evolutionary processes. We conducted phenotypic assays in four environments using a set of Daphnia pulex mutation accumulation lines to examine the context dependence of mutation. Life-history traits accrued mutational variance faster than morphological traits when considered in individual environments. Across environments, the mutational variance in plasticity was also greater for life-history traits than for morphological traits, although this pattern was less robust. In addition, the expression of mutational variance depended on the environment, which resulted in changes in the rank order of genotype performance across environments in some cases. Such cryptic genetic variation resulting from mutation may maintain genetic diversity and allow for rapid adaptation in spatially or temporally variable environments.

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