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A three year trans-generational plasticity in life history traits

Cite this dataset

Wang, Zhaoren (2020). A three year trans-generational plasticity in life history traits [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Environmental conditions of maternal plants influence adaptive strategies of their progeny via the seed phenotype. Although traditionally, studies have explained patterns of reproduction traits in response to stresses, such as the changes in seed mass and seed germinability under different maternal conditions. However, it is still unclear how maternal effects affect progeny dispersal and germination strategy or how many generations plasticity persists.

2. Plants from diaspore types A and C of the diaspore-heteromorphic annual halophyte Atriplex centralasiatica were grown in low (favorable) vs. high (stressful) salinities over three generations in a fully factorial design. We measured life history traits and reproductive characteristics of progeny plants for a three-year transgenerational plasticity (TGP) experiment covering F0, F1, and F

3. TGP of plants grown in favorable vs. stressful salinities decreased from F2 → F1 → F0. Compared to the favorable condition, the stressful condition decreased the length of the vegetative period, extended length of reproductive time and increased reproductive allocation and size of progeny diaspores. Salinity tolerance and phenotypic plasticity were higher in plants from diaspore A than in those from diaspore C. In the stressful condition, plants produced less plant biomass, larger diaspores, a higher proportion of type C diaspores with dormancy and higher dispersal potential, but lower proportion of type A diaspores with nondormancy and lower dispersal potential. In addition, production of the proportion of type C diaspores increased with increase in number of previous generations that experienced stress.

4. Synthesis: The trade-off of reproductive allocation between diaspores A versus C enables plants to develop divergent strategies via both high diaspore C allocation to disperse progeny spatiotemporally across wide areas in stress conditions and high diaspore A allocation to limit progeny near maternal plants in favorable habitats. These findings provide evidence for the “escape strategy” by which the progeny of A. centralasiatica diffused spatially (dispersal) and temporally (dormancy) by TGP, thus allowing them to survive environmental heterogeneity in their cold desert habitats.