About this Research Topic
Phenotypic plasticity allows an organism to express different phenotypes in response to the environment. While plasticity can occur across the life span, organ systems are particularly malleable during embryonic and neonatal life stages. Furthermore, phenotypic changes occurring during development are often permanent, and may even be heritable. Thus, environmental fluctuations during early life can have profound and persistent effects on organismal structure, function and behaviour.
The adaptive significance of developmental plasticity is dependent on numerous factors including, species, age, gender and the type of environmental stress. For mammals, which normally develop under relatively stable conditions, fluctuations in the developmental environment often produce pathological phenotypes which predispose an individual to disease. On the other hand, embryonic ectothermic vertebrates are routinely exposed to wide fluctuations in abiotic factors, such as temperature, pH and oxygen. For these organisms, developmental plasticity may provide a mechanism to develop useful adaptations to the environment. Therefore, conditions experienced during early life can “program” both health and disease in vertebrates.
Given that developmental plasticity is widespread phylogenetically, developmental programing has far-reaching implications for a variety of scientific disciplines, including ecology, evolution, conservation, medicine, public health and sociology. In this Research Topic, we aim to consolidate recent findings and identify common or novel phenotypic signatures associated with developmental programming. We welcome papers which explore the impact of environmental stressors (e.g. temperature, pH, nutrition, oxygen) on the physiology of a broad range of vertebrates (endothermic and ectothermic) across numerous life stages (embryonic, fetal, juvenile and adult) and levels of biological organization. The overall aim of the Research Topic is to provide a platform for an integrative and comparative discussion on the phenotypic consequences of developmental plasticity on vertebrate health and disease
Keywords: Developmental, programing, vertebrate, hypoxia, plasticity
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.