Synergism and Antagonism of Proximate Mechanisms Enable and Constrain the Response to Simultaneous Selection on Body Size and Development Time: An Empirical Test Using Experimental Evolution.
Natural selection acts on multiple traits simultaneously. How mechanisms underlying such traits enable or constrain their response to simultaneous selection is poorly understood. We show how antagonism and synergism among three traits at the developmental level enable or constrain evolutionary change in response to simultaneous selection on two focal traits at the phenotypic level. After 10 generations of 25% simultaneous directional selection on all four combinations of body size and development time in Manduca sexta (Sphingidae), the changes in the three developmental traits predict 93% of the response of development time and 100% of the response of body size. When the two focal traits were under synergistic selection, the response to simultaneous selection was enabled by juvenile hormone and ecdysteroids and constrained by growth rate. When the two focal traits were under antagonistic selection, the response to selection was due primarily to change in growth rate and constrained by the two hormonal traits. The approach used here reduces the complexity of the developmental and endocrine mechanisms to three proxy traits. This generates explicit predictions for the evolutionary response to selection that are based on biologically informed mechanisms. This approach has broad applicability to a diverse range of taxa, including algae, plants, amphibians, mammals, and insects.
Davidowitz, G; Roff, D; Nijhout, HF
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