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Dec 16, 2014
Parents encountering stress environments can influence the phenotype of their offspring in a form of transgenerational phenotypic plasticity that has the potential to be adaptive if offspring are thereby better able to deal with future stressors. Here, we test for the existence of anticipatory parental effects in the heat stress response in the highly polymorphic nematode Caenorhabditis remanei. Rather providing an anticipatory response, parents subject to a prior heat stress actually produce offspring that are less able to survive a severe heat shock. Selection on heat shock resistance within the larvae via experimental evolution leads to a loss of sensitivity (robustness) to environmental variation during both the parental and larval periods. Whole genome transcriptional analysis of both ancestor and selected lines shows that there is weak correspondence between genetic pathways induced via temperature shifts during parental and larval periods. Parental effects can evolve very rapidly via selection acting directly on offspring. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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