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Organism and EnvironmentEcological Development, Niche Construction, and Adaptation$
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Sonia E. Sultan

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199587070

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587070.001.0001

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Mechanisms of plasticity

Mechanisms of plasticity

Eco-devo pathways as environmental cue and response systems

(p.49) Chapter 3 Mechanisms of plasticity
Organism and Environment

Sonia E. Sultan

Oxford University Press

Plastic eco-devo responses result from mechanistically diverse cue and response systems, in which an organism perceives some aspect of its environment as an informational cue that is transduced to modify the phenotype. This chapter first discusses adaptive and inevitable aspects of plastic response and compares animal and plant systems. It goes on to examine environmental cues, which reflect the organism’s sensory apparatus and behaviors. Cues may be obvious or subtle; direct or sensed via internal feedbacks; and immediate, anticipatory, or combinatorial. Transduction mechanisms that lead to phenotypic response are summarized: endocrine and phytohormone signal pathways, pigments, metabolites, targeted regulatory molecules, and environmentally induced epigenetic changes. These cue and response overview sections are followed by detailed case studies of fully elucidated systems: plant developmental responses to light and shade; amphibian metamorphic timing in transient habitats; plant structural, chemical, and tri-trophic defenses to herbivory; and animal developmental responses to predation.

Keywords:   plasticity, phenotypic plasticity, environmental cues, endocrine system, phytochromes, shade tolerance, amphibian plasticity, plant–herbivore interactions, induced defenses, ecological development

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