TitleEcological interactions and the fitness effect of water-use efficiency: Competition and drought alter the impact of natural MPK12 alleles in Arabidopsis.
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsCampitelli BE, Des Marais DL, Juenger TE
JournalEcol Lett
Date2016 Apr
Keywordsarabidopsis, Arabidopsis Proteins, Droughts, Genetic Fitness, Genetic Variation, Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases, Nitrogen, Selection, Genetic, Water

The presence of substantial genetic variation for water-use efficiency (WUE) suggests that natural selection plays a role in maintaining alleles that affect WUE. Soil water deficit can reduce plant survival, and is likely to impose selection to increase WUE, whereas competition for resources may select for decreased WUE to ensure water acquisition. We tested the fitness consequences of natural allelic variation in a single gene (MPK12) that influences WUE in Arabidopsis, using transgenic lines contrasting in MPK12 alleles, under four treatments; drought/competition, drought/no competition, well-watered/competition, well-watered/no competition. Results revealed an allele × environment interaction: Low WUE plants performed better in competition, resulting from increased resource consumption. Contrastingly, high WUE individuals performed better in no competition, irrespective of water availability, presumably from enhanced water conservation and nitrogen acquisition. Our findings suggest that selection can influence MPK12 evolution, and represents the first assessment of plant fitness resulting from natural allelic variation at a single locus affecting WUE.

Alternate JournalEcol. Lett.
PubMed ID26868103
Research Lab
Des Marais Lab

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  1. Des Marais Lab

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    The primary focus of research in the Des Marais Lab is to understand the mechanisms of plant-environment interaction.

    We use tools from molecular, quantitative and population genetics to identify the physiological basis of plant response to environmental cues, and ask how these mechanisms constrain or facilitate plant breeding and evolutionary change.
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