Plasticity, its cost, and phenotypic selection under water and nutrient stress in two annual grasses

Sergei Volis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


A comparative approach can prove to be a useful tool for studying phenotypic plasticity, if applied to specific traits involved in adaptation to particular environment in more than one species across co-located populations. The present study tested whether two annual grasses, Hordeum spontaneum and Avena sterilis, belonging to the same guild, having similar stature, seed dispersal mechanism, breeding system, and genetic variation, and sampled in exactly the same environmentally specific locations, differed with respect to: (1) plasticity in traits involved in adaptation, namely the onset of reproduction and maternal investment involving the number of inflorescences, spikelets per inflorescence, the weight of individual spikelets, and abortion rate; (2) the cost of this plasticity, and (3) the pattern of phenotypic selection on the above traits. The two species exhibited highly differing amounts of phenotypic plasticity in the onset of flowering and several reproductive traits (number of inflorescences, spikelets per inflorescence, abortion rate), but no plasticity costs in any experimental environment. The two species demonstrated a decreasing similarity in the regulation of reproduction in four experimental environments: benign, water, nutrients and water × nutrient deficient. Correlational selection appears to contribute, although not solely, to the observed species differences with respect to the regulation of reproduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-593
Number of pages13
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2009


  • Adaptation
  • Comparative approach
  • Flowering time
  • Plasticity cost
  • Trade-off

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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