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Depicting the phenotypic space of the annual plant Diplotaxis acris in hyper-arid deserts

Cite this dataset

Picó, Xavier (2022). Depicting the phenotypic space of the annual plant Diplotaxis acris in hyper-arid deserts [Dataset]. Dryad.


The phenotypic space encompasses the assemblage of trait combinations yielding well-suited integrated phenotypes. At the population level, understanding phenotypic space structure requires the quantification of among- and within-population variation in traits and the correlation pattern among them. Here, we studied the phenotypic space of the annual plant Diplotaxis acris occurring in hyper-arid deserts. Given the advance of warming and aridity in vast regions occupied by drylands, D. acris can indicate the successful evolutionary trajectory that many other annual plant species may follow in expanding drylands. To this end, we conducted a greenhouse experiment with 176 D. acris individuals from five Saudi populations to quantify the genetic component of variation in architectural and life-history traits. We found low among-population divergence but high among-individual variation in all traits. In addition, all traits showed a high degree of genetic determination in our study experimental conditions. We did not find significant effects of recruitment and fecundity on fitness. Finally, all architectural traits exhibited a strong correlation pattern among them, whereas for life-history traits, only higher seed germination implied earlier flowering. Seed weight appeared to be an important trait in D. acris, as individuals with heavier seeds tended to advance flowering and have a more vigorous branching pattern, which led to higher fecundity. Population divergence in D. acris might be constrained by the severity of the hyper-arid environment, but populations maintain high among-individual genetic variation in all traits. Furthermore, D. acris showed phenotypic integration for architectural traits and, to a lesser extent, for life-history traits. Overall, we hypothesize that D. acris may be fine-tuned to its demanding extreme environments. Evolutionary speaking, annual plants facing increasing warming, aridity and environmental seasonality might modify their phenotypic spaces towards new phenotypic configurations strongly dominated by correlated architectural traits enhancing fecundity and seed-related traits advancing flowering time.


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Agencia Estatal de Investigación, Award: PID2019-104135GB-I00