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Genetic variability of environmental sensitivity revealed by phenotypic variation in body weight and (its) correlations to physiological and behavioral traits

  • Lallias, Delphine
  • Quillet, Edwige
  • Bégout, Marie-Laure
  • Auperin, Benoît
  • KHAW, Hooi Ling
  • Millot, Sandie
  • Valotaire, Claudiane
  • Kerneis, Thierry
  • Labbé, Laurent
  • Prunet, Patrick
  • Dupont-Nivet, Mathilde
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2017
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Adaptive phenotypic plasticity is a key component of the ability of organisms to cope with changing environmental conditions. Fish have been shown to exhibit a substantial level of phenotypic plasticity in response to abiotic and biotic factors. In the present study, we investigate the link between environmental sensitivity assessed globally (revealed by phenotypic variation in body weight) and more targeted physiological and behavioral indicators that are generally used to assess the sensitivity of a fish to environmental stressors. We took advantage of original biological material, the rainbow trout isogenic lines, which allowed the disentangling of the genetic and environmental parts of the phenotypic variance. Ten lines were characterized for the changes of body weight variability (weight measurements taken every month during 18 months), the plasma cortisol response to confinement stress (3 challenges) and a set of selected behavioral indicators. This study unambiguously demonstrated the existence of genetic determinism of environmental sensitivity, with some lines being particularly sensitive to environmental fluctuations and others rather insensitive. Correlations between coefficient of variation (CV) for body weight and behavioral and physiological traits were observed. This confirmed that CV for body weight could be used as an indicator of environmental sensitivity. As the relationship between indicators (CV weight, risk-taking, exploration and cortisol) was shown to be likely depending on the nature and intensity of the stressor, the joint use of several indicators should help to investigate the biological complexity of environmental sensitivity.

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