About this Research Topic
Accelerating global and regional environmental changes are likely to favor species that can rapidly adapt to new conditions. Long-lived, clonal species in which reproduction is mainly asexual have long been thought to possess relatively low potential for adaptation. However, recent research suggests that several mechanisms for transmitting responses to environmental change between vegetative generations within clones could compensate for lack of natural selection based on sexual reproduction.
First, parental effects on vegetative offspring may be relatively strong compared to those on sexual offspring. For example, the relatively large size of vegetative offspring may allow for more extensive provisioning with carbohydrates or mineral nutrients.
Second, epigenetic changes may encode phenotypic plasticity and allow it to persist between vegetative generations. Changes such as DNA methylation, chromosome inactivation, and modifications of histones, chromatin, and small non-coding RNAs are now understood to transmit major phenotypic shifts between generations even in the absence of genetically based natural selection. Epigenetic effects within clones are just beginning to be investigated.
Third, somatic mutations may be more efficiently transmitted between vegetative than sexual generations. Somatic mutation has been shown to underlie phenotypic change within clones over time, but previous work has not linked this to fitness.
This Research Topic will assemble new explorations of the ecological and evolutionary significance of transgenerational effects in clonal and inbreeding plants. Papers that relate transgenerational effects to environmental factors such as herbivory, disease, physical disturbance, or availability of nutrients, light, or water are strongly encouraged. Work that advances understanding of the mechanisms of transgenerational effects within clones or in inbreeding plants is likewise very welcome. Research that does not explicitly address transgenerational effects but that contributes substantially to knowledge of responses of clonal plants to environmental changes will also be considered.
Keywords: Clonal Growth, Environmental Change, Epigenetics, Maternal Effect, Transgenerational Plasticity, Inbreeding plants
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