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How adaptive plasticity evolves when selected against

Rago, Alfredo LU ; Kouvaris, Kostas; Uller, Tobias LU and Watson, Richard (2019) In PLoS Computational Biology 15(3).
Abstract

Adaptive plasticity allows organisms to cope with environmental change, thereby increasing the population's long-term fitness. However, individual selection can only compare the fitness of individuals within each generation: if the environment changes more slowly than the generation time (i.e., a coarse-grained environment) a population will not experience selection for plasticity even if it is adaptive in the long-term. How does adaptive plasticity then evolve? One explanation is that, if competing alleles conferring different degrees of plasticity persist across multiple environments, natural selection between genetic lineages could select for adaptive plasticity (lineage selection). We show that adaptive plasticity can evolve even in... (More)

Adaptive plasticity allows organisms to cope with environmental change, thereby increasing the population's long-term fitness. However, individual selection can only compare the fitness of individuals within each generation: if the environment changes more slowly than the generation time (i.e., a coarse-grained environment) a population will not experience selection for plasticity even if it is adaptive in the long-term. How does adaptive plasticity then evolve? One explanation is that, if competing alleles conferring different degrees of plasticity persist across multiple environments, natural selection between genetic lineages could select for adaptive plasticity (lineage selection). We show that adaptive plasticity can evolve even in the absence of such lineage selection. Instead, we propose that adaptive plasticity in coarse-grained environments evolves as a by-product of inefficient short-term natural selection: populations that rapidly evolve their phenotypes in response to selective pressures follow short-term optima, with the result that they have reduced long-term fitness across environments. Conversely, populations that accumulate limited genetic change within each environment evolve long-term adaptive plasticity even when plasticity incurs short-term costs. These results remain qualitatively similar regardless of whether we decrease the efficiency of natural selection by increasing the rate of environmental change or decreasing mutation rate, demonstrating that both factors act via the same mechanism. We demonstrate how this mechanism can be understood through the concept of learning rate. Our work shows how plastic responses that are costly in the short term, yet adaptive in the long term, can evolve as a by-product of inefficient short-term selection, without selection for plasticity at either the individual or lineage level.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
PLoS Computational Biology
volume
15
issue
3
publisher
Public Library of Science
external identifiers
  • scopus:85063635254
ISSN
1553-7358
DOI
10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006260
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
7c429cb6-2049-4037-a482-ef01e74c8ac5
date added to LUP
2019-04-10 11:08:41
date last changed
2019-04-30 04:11:04
@article{7c429cb6-2049-4037-a482-ef01e74c8ac5,
  abstract     = {<p>Adaptive plasticity allows organisms to cope with environmental change, thereby increasing the population's long-term fitness. However, individual selection can only compare the fitness of individuals within each generation: if the environment changes more slowly than the generation time (i.e., a coarse-grained environment) a population will not experience selection for plasticity even if it is adaptive in the long-term. How does adaptive plasticity then evolve? One explanation is that, if competing alleles conferring different degrees of plasticity persist across multiple environments, natural selection between genetic lineages could select for adaptive plasticity (lineage selection). We show that adaptive plasticity can evolve even in the absence of such lineage selection. Instead, we propose that adaptive plasticity in coarse-grained environments evolves as a by-product of inefficient short-term natural selection: populations that rapidly evolve their phenotypes in response to selective pressures follow short-term optima, with the result that they have reduced long-term fitness across environments. Conversely, populations that accumulate limited genetic change within each environment evolve long-term adaptive plasticity even when plasticity incurs short-term costs. These results remain qualitatively similar regardless of whether we decrease the efficiency of natural selection by increasing the rate of environmental change or decreasing mutation rate, demonstrating that both factors act via the same mechanism. We demonstrate how this mechanism can be understood through the concept of learning rate. Our work shows how plastic responses that are costly in the short term, yet adaptive in the long term, can evolve as a by-product of inefficient short-term selection, without selection for plasticity at either the individual or lineage level.</p>},
  articleno    = {e1006260},
  author       = {Rago, Alfredo and Kouvaris, Kostas and Uller, Tobias and Watson, Richard},
  issn         = {1553-7358},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  publisher    = {Public Library of Science},
  series       = {PLoS Computational Biology},
  title        = {How adaptive plasticity evolves when selected against},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006260},
  volume       = {15},
  year         = {2019},
}