Genotypic-specific variance in Caenorhabditis elegans lifetime fecundity

S Anaid Diaz, Mark Viney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Organisms live in heterogeneous environments, so strategies that maximze fitness in such environments will evolve. Variation in traits is important because it is the raw material on which natural selection acts during evolution. Phenotypic variation is usually thought to be due to genetic variation and/or environmentally induced effects. Therefore, genetically identical individuals in a constant environment should have invariant traits. Clearly, genetically identical individuals do differ phenotypically, usually thought to be due to stochastic processes. It is now becoming clear, especially from studies of unicellular species, that phenotypic variance among genetically identical individuals in a constant environment can be genetically controlled and that therefore, in principle, this can be subject to selection. However, there has been little investigation of these phenomena in multicellular species. Here, we have studied the mean lifetime fecundity (thus a trait likely to be relevant to reproductive success), and variance in lifetime fecundity, in recently-wild isolates of the model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. We found that these genotypes differed in their variance in lifetime fecundity: some had high variance in fecundity, others very low variance. We find that this variance in lifetime fecundity was negatively related to the mean lifetime fecundity of the lines, and that the variance of the lines was positively correlated between environments. We suggest that the variance in lifetime fecundity may be a bet-hedging strategy used by this species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2058-69
Number of pages12
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


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