Phenotypic plasticity in development and evolution: facts and concepts
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Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 365 (1540): 547--556 (2010)

This theme issue pursues an exploration of the potential of taking into account the environmental sensitivity of development to explaining the evolution of metazoan life cycles, with special focus on complex life cycles and the role of developmental plasticity. The evolution of switches between alternative phenotypes as a response to different environmental cues and the evolution of the control of the temporal expression of alternative phenotypes within an organism’s life cycle are here treated together as different dimensions of the complex relationships between genotype and phenotype, fostering the emergence of a more general and comprehensive picture of phenotypic evolution through a quite diverse sample of case studies. This introductory article reviews fundamental facts and concepts about phenotypic plasticity, adopting the most authoritative terminology in use in the current literature. The main topics are types and components of phenotypic variation, the evolution of organismal traits through plasticity, the origin and evolution of phenotypic plasticity and its adaptive value. © 2010 The Royal Society
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