Epigenetic Flexibility Underlying Phenotypic Plasticity

  • Y. Geng
  • L. Gao
  • J. Yang
Part of the Progress in Botany book series (BOTANY, volume 74)


Phenotypic plasticity refers to the ability of an organism to produce different phenotypes under different environmental circumstances. The mechanisms underlying phenotypic plasticity received considerable attention in recent years. It has become widely acknowledged that plastic variation in phenotypes mostly take place by altering gene expression and eventually altering ontogenetic trajectory in response to environmental changes. Epigenetic modifications provide a plausible mechanism for the putative link between environmental variation and alterations in gene expression. While much attention is being paid to heritable epigenetic changes, little attention is being paid to swift and reversible epigenetic alternations, which mediate rapid plastic responses of the organism to environmental perturbation. This mechanism is particularly important to allow organisms with no/low genetic diversity to adapt to different environments, and is likely to be a favorable evolutionary response when organisms are exposed to stress periods that last shorter than a single life span. Studying epigenetic complexes in the real environment would allow us to get greater insights into the molecular machinery that interfaces the genotype and the environment.


Phenotypic Plasticity Common Garden Epigenetic Variation Epigenetic Reprogram Epigenetic Information 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Ecology and Geobotany, School of Life SciencesYunnan UniversityKunmingChina
  2. 2.Center for Evolutionary Biology, School of Life SciencesFudan UniversityShanghaiChina

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