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Coexistence of trichome variation in a natural plant population: a combined study using ecological and candidate gene approaches.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Kawagoe Tetsuhiro, Shimizu Kentaro K, Kakutani Tetsuji, Kudoh Hiroshi,
Project Evolution of breeding systems and phenology: evolutionary genomic analysis using Arabidopsis relatives
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal PloS one
Volume (Issue) 6(7)
Page(s) 22184 - 22184
Title of proceedings PloS one
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0022184

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


The coexistence of distinct phenotypes within populations has long been investigated in evolutionary ecology. Recent studies have identified the genetic basis of distinct phenotypes, but it is poorly understood how the variation in candidate loci is maintained in natural environments. In this study, we examined fitness consequences and genetic basis of variation in trichome production in a natural population of Arabidopsis halleri subsp. gemmifera. Half of the individuals in the study population produced trichomes while the other half were glabrous, and the leaf beetle Phaedon brassicae imposed intensive damage to both phenotypes. The fitness of hairy and glabrous plants showed no significant differences in the field during two years. A similar result was obtained when sibling hairy and glabrous plants were transplanted at the same field site, whereas a fitness cost of trichome production was detected under a weak herbivory condition. Thus, equivalent fitness of hairy and glabrous plants under natural herbivory allows their coexistence in the contemporary population. The pattern of polymorphism of the candidate trichome gene GLABROUS1 (GL1) showed no evidence of long-term maintenance of trichome variation within the population. Although balancing selection under fluctuating biotic environments is often proposed to explain the maintenance of defense variation, the lack of clear evidence of balancing selection in the study population suggests that other factors such as gene flow and neutral process may have played relatively large roles in shaping trichome variation at least for the single population level.