Journal of Biosciences

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 41–50 | Cite as

Do plants and animals differ in phenotypic plasticity?

  • Renee M. Borges


This paper compares the flexibility in the nexus between phenotype and genotype in plants and animals. These taxa although considered to be fundamentally different are found to be surprisingly similar in the mechanisms used to achieve plasticity. Although non-cognitive behaviour occurs in plants, its range is limited, while morphological and developmental plasticity also occur to a considerable extent in animals. Yet both plants and animals are subject to unique constraints and thus need to find unique solutions to functional problems. A true comparison between the plant and animal phenotype would be a comparison between plants and sessile photosynthesizing colonial invertebrates. Such comparisons are lacking. However, they would provide important insights into the adaptive significance of plasticity in these groups. It is also suggested that a comparison of inflexible traits in these groups would provide an understanding of the constraints, as well as the costs and benefits, of a plastic versus non-plastic phenotype in plants and animals.


Epigenetic inheritance plant behaviour plant communication polyphenism reaction norm 


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Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Renee M. Borges
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Ecological SciencesIndian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia

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