About this Research Topic
To keep up with the changing environment and novel challenges, organisms are required to adapt constantly. Adaptive phenotypic plasticity is achieved by the interplay between genes with intrinsic and extrinsic signals, manipulating their expression. This is happening perpetually during the lifetime of all living organisms in order to survive and reproduce. Remarkably, parents are able to “prime” the physiology of their offspring, such that the offspring phenotypes will better match the expected environmental challenges. This trans-generational plasticity serves as a short time response towards changing environmental conditions. Maternal effects have received more attention; however, it is becoming increasingly clear that paternal effects are shaping offspring phenotypes. It is time to shed light on the epigenetic, behavioral and physiological factors mediating these trans-generational effects. We need to gain insight into the costs and duration of trans-generational plasticity to assess its importance and interaction with genetic adaptation. Furthermore, comparative approaches spanning different organismal groups will serve to better understand common patterns and mechanisms.
With this collection, we aim to shed light on the expanding experimental assessment of trans-generational plasticity research. We aim to evaluate the phenomenon of trans-generational immune priming across the animal kingdom, with a particular focus on contributions from non-model systems. We welcome articles that assess the differences and similarities of trans-generational plasticity among a diverse range of abiotic and biotic factors (e.g. parasites, symbionts, intra-species competition, temperature, salinity, CO2 concentration). As the impact of the maternal environment may be distinct from the impact of the paternal environment, studies addressing the sex-specific impact are particularly welcome. Contributions should give a broad insight into the mechanistic basis, including but not limited to: behavior studies, the molecular basis of trans-generational plasticity, gene-expression changes, and epigenetics (DNA methylation and histone acidification). We also invite theoretical studies that aim to model how parental environments may modify offspring performance, or a combination of experimental and theoretical work.
Keywords: acclimatization, parental effects, environment, epigenetics, phenotypic plasticity
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