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Parental influences on pathogen resistance in brown trout embryos and effects of outcrossing within a river network.
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Phenotypic plasticity can increase tolerance to heterogeneous environments but the elevations and slopes of reaction norms are often population specific. Disruption of locally adapted reaction norms through outcrossing can lower individual viability. Here, we sampled five genetically distinct populations of brown trout (Salmo trutta) from within a river network, crossed them in a full-factorial design, and challenged the embryos with the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas fluorescens. By virtue of our design, we were able to disentangle effects of genetic crossing distance from sire and dam effects on early life-history traits. While pathogen infection did not increase mortality, it was associated with delayed hatching of smaller larvae with reduced yolk sac reserves. We found no evidence of a relationship between genetic distance (W, FST) and the expression of early-life history traits. Moreover, hybrids did not differ in phenotypic means or reaction norms in comparison to offspring from within-population crosses. Heritable variation in early life-history traits was found to remain stable across the control and pathogen environments. Our findings show that outcrossing within a rather narrow geographical scale can have neutral effects on F1 hybrid viability at the embryonic stage, i.e. at a stage when environmental and genetic effects on phenotypes are usually large.
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