S9: Phenotypic plasticity driving evolution? Evidence from skeletal elements
Phenotypic plasticity is the capacity of a genotype to produce several alternative phenotypes depending on environmental conditions. Its importance in guiding evolutionary trajectories has been evaluated very differently throughout the last decades and is still hotly debated: conceptions range from a negative impact on evolutionary rates by buffering selective forces, to a positive role in guiding an adaptive response. Old ideas such as genetic assimilation are revived in rigorous experimental settings and a very active research program currently investigates how exactly an initial phenotypic response might bring about genetic change and indeed phenotypic novelties. Our symposium addresses the long-standing question of whether phenotypic plasticity drives evolution by using skeletal elements as a test case.
Antonio Cordero and Nathalie Feiner, Lund University, Sweden