Developmental responses to nutritional variation represent one of the ecologically most important classes of adaptive plasticity. However, knowledge of genome-wide patterns of nutrition-responsive gene expression is limited. Here, we studied genome-wide transcriptional responses to nutritional variation and their dependency on trait and sex in the beetle Onthophagus taurus. We find that averaged across the transcriptome, nutrition contributes less to overall variation in gene expression than do sex or body region, but that for a modest subset of genes nutrition is by far the most important determinant of expression variation. Furthermore, our results reject the hypothesis that a common machinery may underlie nutrition-sensitive development across body regions. Instead, we find that magnitude (measured by number of differentially expressed contigs), composition (measured by functional enrichment) and evolutionary consequences (measured by patterns of sequence variation) are heavily dependent on exactly which body region is considered and the degree of sexual dimorphism observed on a morphological level. More generally, our findings illustrate that studies into the developmental mechanisms and evolutionary consequences of nutrition-biased gene expression must take into account the dynamics and complexities imposed by other sources of variation in gene expression such as sexual dimorphism and trait type.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences|
|State||Published - Nov 5 2014|
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
- Developmental plasticity
- Horned beetles
- Nutritional variation
- Square combining table