A quantitative genetic analysis of phenotypic plasticity of diapause induction in the cricket Allonemobius socius


Derek A. Roff E-mail: droff@bio1.lan.mcgill.ca


Although numerous studies have indicated that diapause is heritable and phenotypically plastic, none of them has examined the quantitative genetic basis of this plasticity. In this paper we report such an analysis for egg diapause in the cricket Allonemobius socius, the induction of which appears to be largely determined by the mother. We analysed the quantitative genetic basis of the phenotypically plastic response of female A. socius to age and environmental conditions. We measured the production of diapause eggs on four occasions over a 16-day period, and in two environments; one mimicking an ‘early’ period of the year and another mimicking a ‘late’ period. We analysed genetic variation in phenotypic plasticity using the character-state approach. Diapause proportion was heritable (h2 ranged from 0.17 to 0.49, being larger in the ‘early’ environment), and the genetic correlation between ages in proportion of diapausing eggs was close to 1 but showed a decrease with increased difference between ages. There were significant genetic correlations between environments for all ages. Because of the reduction in genetic correlation as the difference in ages increases, selection will be more effective at changing the overall shape of the reaction norm than causing local changes. Furthermore, the high genetic correlations may constrain the evolution of the reaction norm. When the two environments are converted into the estimated days in the year the two reaction norms form approximately a single curve as predicted from previous theoretical analysis of the optimal reaction norm.